More workers in Cagayan hospital get COVID | Inquirer News

More workers in Cagayan hospital get COVID

Gov’t-run Cagayan Valley Medical Center shuts outpatient dep’t as 103 employees fall ill; Quezon, Zambales provinces also seeing infection spike
By: - Correspondent / @VillVisayaJrINQ
/ 05:19 AM May 23, 2023

More workers in Cagayan hospital get COVID

VULNERABLE | The Cagayan Valley Medical Center, the largest government referral hospital in the Cagayan Valley region, had to temporarily close its outpatient department on Monday, May 22, 2023, following an outbreak of COVID-19, which infected 103 of the hospital’s workers. (Photo by VILLAMOR VISAYA JR. / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan, Philippines — Just as residents in this capital city of Cagayan province were relaxing health protocols and have lowered their guard against COVID-19, the largest government hospital in the Cagayan Valley region located here has to shut down its outpatient department on Monday after 103 of its workers tested positive for the disease.

This developed as the provinces of Quezon in Calabarzon and Zambales in Central Luzon, which are under alert levels 2 and 1, respectively, also started experiencing a spike in infections this month, authorities said.


As of Monday, the Cagayan Valley region — composed of the provinces of Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino and the City of Santiago — remains under alert level 1, the most relaxed alert level that allows free movement of people, full operation of businesses and minimum observance of health protocols.


Dr. Glenn Mathew Baggao, chief of the Cagayan Valley Medical Center (CVMC), said in an interview on Monday that 15 of those who were infected with the viral disease were nurses and nursing aides of the outpatient department, while the others were nonmedical staff members of the hospital.

Baggao said the temporary closure of the outpatient department on Monday was to allow for disinfection and contact tracing involving those who could have been exposed to the infected hospital employees.


He said the hospital, which has about 2,000 regular and contractual workers, had also imposed a skeleton workforce, especially among hospital staff, many of whom were advised to isolate and follow the minimum health protocols.

“We are implementing online and phone consultations for patients who wish to refer their illnesses to us while the outpatient department is closed,” Baggao said.

The number of infected CVMC workers began to spike last week after the hospital recorded 90 COVID-19 cases among its employees by May 19.

It was still being investigated how the workers got infected since the hospital had no COVID-19 patients prior to the virus outbreak, even as 500 CVMC workers were still assigned to solely handle COVID-19 cases, as the hospital remains the major referral facility for virus-infected patients from other hospitals in the region, Baggao said.

Baggao noted that the infection could have been contracted outside the medical facility.

As of Sunday, Tuguegarao registered 65 active COVID-19 cases, the highest in the region.

According to independent pandemic monitor Octa Research, Cagayan was among the provinces in the country that registered high virus positivity rates as of May 20. Cagayan’s positivity rate stood at 21.6 percent, which increased from the 14.7 percent that was logged on May 13. The virus positivity rate refers to the percentage of tests that turn out positive.

Over 2.67 million eligible residents in the region were already fully vaccinated against COVID-19, reaching herd immunity for inoculating 70 percent of the 3.69 million target population.


Baggao said the infected hospital workers were showing mild symptoms and were immediately placed on home quarantine, while the patients who could have been exposed to them were isolated.

CVMC’s emergency room department would remain open for medical needs, he added.

In-person conferences and flag-raising ceremonies of the hospital were also canceled, along with the major activities for the hospital’s 78th founding anniversary, such as sports competition events, next month due to the virus outbreak.

In Quezon, four more COVID-19 patients died in the last three days, bringing the total number of fatalities this month to seven amid the continued rise in the number of active cases in the province.

On Sunday, at least 27 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in Quezon, bringing to 181 its total active infections, data from the Integrated Provincial Health Office showed.

This May, Quezon has already logged 463 new cases, an alarming increase from only 76 in April, 13 in March, 15 in February and 92 in January.

Dr. Kristin Mae-Jean Villaseñor, Quezon provincial health office chief, attributed the continued increase in the number of active COVID-19 cases in the province to the complacency of the public toward the coronavirus and the staging of crowd-drawing festivals in several localities this May.

Curbs returned

In Zambales, the town of Masinloc reimposed the liquor ban, the 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew hours and the wearing of face masks indoors on May 18, following an uptick in new COVID-19 cases in the province.

Masinloc Mayor Arsenia Lim ordered the reactivation of these protocols to prevent the spread of infections, although the town had only one COVID-19 case as of Sunday.

As of Sunday, Zambales has 36 active cases after recording zero active infections on April 15, data from the provincial health office showed.

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About 73.76 percent of the province’s total population was fully vaccinated against the disease as of May 19.



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TAGS: Cagayan COVID-19 cases, Cagayan Valley Medical Center, OCTA Research

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