NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Sunday print edition.
In keeping Bohol Covid-free, Governor Art Yap emphasized that “the name of the game is still prevention.”
Yap has ordered the barangays to require every household to allot one isolation room while the “One Household, One Pass” policy will get implemented starting tomorrow in the towns with varying degree of strictness as to its implementation.
In the city, Mayor Baba Yap will be implementing the policy on Thursday.
He told the barangay captains that in consideration that not all households have enough space to allot one room as isolation room, every barangay is required to set up isolation area that can accommodate five percent of the barangay’s population as recommended by the Department of Health.
As of the latest report, there are already 1,168 total barangay isolation centers that have been set up.
On this, Yap said he already asked the DILG to start monitoring the barangays this week and conduct actual on-the-ground verification of the 1,168 isolation centers reported.
The number of isolation centers per barangay exceeds the number of barangays in Bohol which is 1,109 but this does not mean that all the barangays have already complied.
Some barangays prepared three to four isolation centers such as those in Tagbilaran City.
In Tubigon, only five out of more than 34 barangays; while in some towns, it is already 100 percent complied; and all the rest are still 50 percent in compliance.
To brace for spill out from the barangays, the municipalities are also required to prepare isolation centers.
Yap said Tagbilaran City and 14 municipalities have already reported and readied 18 municipal isolation centers that are complete.
To also brace for spill out from the municipalities, the provincial government has prepared the Capitol Annex Building along J.A Clarin St. which can accommodate 60 patients and will be ready for occupancy as central isolation center by Monday.
“In my instruction- -first level of response, every household must have one room as isolation room. If way espasyo, the barangay must have barangay isolation area. If there is a spill out from barangays, the municipality is required to provide its own isolation centers. There are 18 centers ready now. If there is spill out from municipalities, the province is readying the Capitol Annex Building to accommodate 60 patients and it is ready to operate by Monday,” Yap said.
The next central isolation center that the provincial government is preparing is the Bohol Cultural Center which can accommodate 61 patients; the old Tagbilaran Airport can accommodate 22 patients.
“With this, we will have preliminary 143-bed capacity to address isolation centers spill out,” the governor added.
Governor CelestinoGallares Memorial Hospital (GCGMH) is also being set up to be the exclusive centralized Covid-19 hospital in Bohol, in consideration of the recommendations of the medical advisers.
In case conditions of patients would graduate from moderate acute respiratory infection (MARI) to severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) or further to Covid-19 positive, the GCGMH will handle it.
GCGMH will be converted into a 250-bed capacity exclusive Covid-19 hospital.
At present, GCGMH has 33 beds ready to accommodate SARI cases and MARI cases.
“Right now, wave 1 of 33 beds is ready. Just in case ngamo-graduate to higher level of wave 2, Gallares hospital has prepared 70 beds more. For wave 3, additional 100 beds will be readied. And, the final wave will equal to 220 beds,” Yap said.
Private hospitals are also willing to support wherein ACE Medical Center had committed to allow the use of its 6th floor as additional Covid-19 emergency facility with 40 beds; while HNU Medical Center will allow the use of its 5th floor with 25 rooms.
Don Emilio Del Valle Memorial Hospital in Ubay also has 30 rooms ready.
Yap also shared that the challenge now in preparing GCGMH into exclusive centralized Covid-19 hospital is the preparation of the ventilators.
“Tungod kay ang Covid-19 is a virus that attacks the respiratory system of individuals maonga importanteang individual ventilators ugapilnaang cardiac monitors, suction machine, and syringe pumps,” Yap added.
The governor said that each ventilator must come with a set of cardiac monitor, suction machine, and syringe pump.
“So, there is now a requirement for us to prepare 50-70 ventilators. Mao nga the province and Gallares hospital ga-divide nasatahas to prepare the ventilators for use simbakomo-grabe naang situation sa Bohol about the infections,” according to the governor.
Even if Bohol remains covid-free, Governor Art Yap pointed out that Bohol has to be ready for the worst possible scenario. The governor will be meeting the mayors to prepare for the barangay or municipal lockdown. It is being considered that if one positive Covid-19 case is recorded, there would be automatic lockdown.
Meanwhile, the mayors are tasked to prepare for barangay or municipal lockdown.
One Covid-19 positive individual in the barangay will merit the automatic barangay lockdown.
In barangay lockdown, no one is allowed to go out and enter the affected barangay and the local government unit will be the one to provide for the residents‘ food.
If two Covid-positive cases are recorded in a municipality, the whole town will be locked down where no one is allowed to go out and enter the affected municipality.
ONE HOUSEHOLD-ONE PASS ORDER
On the other hand, the governor issued a memorandum dated March 27, 2020 to inform all mayors of the one household-one pass policy on all residents of the Province of Bohol when transacting in establishments as provided for in Executive Order 18 during the effectivity of the community quarantine as a measure instituted to address the ongoing threat of Covid-19.
The memorandum takes effect on Monday, March 30.
Based on the memo, the barangay shall issue one pass order to each household within their constituency, or a One Household-One Pass Order.
Each family shall have only one representative to go to any establishment/s allowed to operate under regulated hours as provided for under EO 18.
For this purpose, the designated household representative shall bring the Pass Order in order to transact business in the regulated establishment/s as provided under EO 18.
Barangay officials, in coordination with the Philippine National Police, shall strictly monitor and enforce this Order.
“Sa karongpanahona pod atonanggibilinsamga mayor ang policy nga mag-issue nasilang food quarantine pass. One member per family. Ang authorization is one member per family to buy food and medicines for the family kay we are listening movements sa municipalities and the city. Mao nga one household, one pass. But this is the responsibility of mayors,” Yap said.
He also said it is also the responsibility of the mayors to talk with the police and LTO on the regulation of habalhabal operation in their areas.
Meanwhile, the governor issued Executive Order 16-A last Thursday, amending Executive Order No. 16 which imposes a 24-hour curfew on all residents of the province of Bohol who are aged 65 and above and all children below the age of 18 from going out of their homes in order to shield them from the effects of Covid-19.
Under EO 16-A exempts from the 24-hour curfew, residents aged 65 and above who are in the agricultural and fishery industries and in the actual performance of farming and fishery activities; and also children in the age-range of 15 to 17 who actually assist their family in any farming or fishery activities.
Yap explained that there is a need to define certain exemptions to EO 16 so as not to be unduly restrictive to senior citizens in the farming industry.
COVID TESTING LAB
Bohol has already been identified by DOH as a possible testing area for Covid-19 and if Bohol passes the standards, testing for covid-19 can already be done in the province and those in severe health conditions will be prioritized in the testing
Dr. MutiaMacuno, chief of hospital of Governor CelestinoGallares Memorial Hospital, reported to Yap last Friday that the office of DOH Assistant Secretary Santiago had informed that GCGMH can qualify to be designated as Covid Testing Center in addition to Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center.
Dr. Macuno said this would be possible in two to three weeks time if they would use the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine.
The testing kits to be used are the same to the ones used in Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center.
With the accreditation of Bohol as testing center, testing for Covid-19 can then be done right in Bohol and specimens will only be submitted to RITM for clarificatory results if the local test result proves positive.
The PCR machine that is being used for TB diagnosis has recently been approved by the FDA to be used in covid-19 testing.
As soon as FDA and RITM will give the clearance for this to be used, then Bohol will already be identified to be supplied with the kits for the Genexpert.
The DOH will send the assessment form to Gallares hospital in a couple of days and as soon as it’s there, somebody will be sent over to physically assess Gallares Hospital.
Gallares hospital has also scouted already for a possible supplier for the PCR machine and if the process would be expedited, the testing center can be established in two to three weeks.
Macuno explained that the Genexpert test is a molecular test for TB.
Macuno also explained that there are two directions in getting the testing center here.
“The first is the nearest possibility which is using the so-called Genexpert equipment which is being used for TB diagnosis, this is already available in our hospital. The status is that DOH is waiting for the kits to arrive. So, it is on transit. As soon as FDA and RITM will give the clearance for this to be used, then we are already identified to be supplied with this kit for the Genexpert,” she said.
Macuno said that “the second direction is we were requested to sign a letter of intent to be assessed as a molecular testing site just like Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center. So, we just sent the letter of intent this morning (March 27) to the office Secretary Duque as well. And, they will send us the assessment form. This will be done in a couple of days.
As soon as it’s there, somebody will be sent over to physically assess us. We have already scouted for a possible supplier for the PCR machine and if things will be put in place then if everything will be expedited and in accordance with all of the processes, and if you’ll ask me how soon it can be established, according to them, we can have this in two to three weeks.”