Going to Iloilo City? Then, keep your masks on
ILOILO CITY—Mayor Jerry Treñas has reimposed a policy requiring all employees and visitors to wear face masks inside City Hall starting April 11.
Treñas said cases of COVID-19 in Iloilo City increased recently, although hospital utilization rates remained low since most of the cases were considered mild.
Earlier, several visitors, including those from national and regional government agencies, were not allowed to enter City Hall because they did not wear masks.
“We have once again required the wearing of face masks inside Iloilo City Hall. Face masks will only ensure that infection will not increase in closed areas while continuing with the services of the city,” Treñas said.
On March 30, Treñas contracted COVID-19 and was admitted to a hospital the following day. He underwent home quarantine and was able to report back to work only last Tuesday.
On Oct. 28 last year, President Marcos issued Executive Order No. 7 allowing the voluntary wearing of face masks in indoor and outdoor settings. The order also reiterated the continued implementation of minimum public health standards amid the pandemic.
Hospitalization rate low
The Iloilo City Health Office (Icho) said at least 37 COVID-19 cases were recorded in the city from April 1 to April 12. The number was already more than half of the 44 cases logged in March.
Records from the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the Department of Health (DOH) in Western Visayas showed that the city logged 34 cases in January, 23 cases in February, 44 cases in March, and 26 from April 1 to April 10.
Treñas said the city needed to reimpose some policies to prevent another surge in COVID cases.
“COVID positives are increasing. It is important that we ensure our economic recovery is not derailed. The use of face masks is important to minimize infection,” he said.
Dr. Bea Camille Natalaray, chief of the Infectious Diseases Unit of the DOH Western Visayas Center for Health Development, said COVID hospitalization rates remained low in the region, citing the latest data showing that of 2,012 beds intended for COVID patients, only 384 or 19.09 percent were being used.
Dr. Roland Jay Fortuna, Icho’s COVID-19 coordinator, on Wednesday said the spike in cases might have been caused by mass gatherings as well as the closure of testing centers during the Holy Week.
Fortuna urged people to continue practicing minimum public health standards—physical distancing, observing cough etiquette, proper and constant washing of hands, and wearing face masks regardless of vaccination status—in places of work and recreation.
No surge in Davao
In Davao City, the head of Mindanao’s largest COVID-19 facility allayed fears over the recently reported rise of COVID-19 cases in the Davao Region but clarified that it was not a surge and that the facility had enough rooms to accommodate patients.
Dr. Ricardo Audan, chief of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), said that although the hospital saw an increase in COVID-19 positivity rate among patients admitted in the past week, the number had since stabilized.
Audan said the positivity rate of patients admitted at SPMC had climbed from only 9 percent on April 2 to 12 percent on April 3 and peaked as high as 17 and 18 percent last week. This dropped to 11 percent this week.
He also assured that the hospital still had enough rooms to accommodate patients as only 50 percent of existing intensive care unit (ICU) beds were occupied while 70 percent of non-ICU beds were being used.
“In the past week, there was an increase in the COVID-19 cases in the hospital but it was not a surge,” Audan said. “In fact, that was what can be expected following the crowd-drawing events such as the Ironman, the Araw ng Dabaw previous to that, and the recent observance of the Holy Week. But fortunately, the positivity rate has gone down to 11 percent,” he added.
The DOH noted a total of 339 COVID-19 patients admitted in the region’s hospitals as of April 10.
Of the total, only 26 were considered severe and critical. Of the 339 patients, 223 were new cases recorded from April 3 to April 9.
“We’re still in a pandemic. We should continue wearing masks since we could no longer impose physical distancing,” said Audan. —WITH A REPORT FROM GERMELINA LACORTE
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