The Bohol Medical Society (BMS) has expressed alarm over the new surge in COVID-19 cases in Bohol which has been attributed to the relaxing of entry protocols in the island-province.
BMS president Dr. Jeff Ong, in an interview over station dyRD on Wednesday, said “half” of the individuals who arrived in Bohol in the past week and opted to be tested upon entry have yielded positive results in their COVID-19 tests.
“Karon na giluagan nato ang atong mga protocol namatikdan nato na kadtong mga taw na wala nagpatest didto sa ilahang gigikanan sa Cebu or Manila, pag-bot nila, diri na sila nagpatest unya kadaghanan nila, almost half sa nangabot diri, positive,” Ong said.
Ong noted that doctors are wary that the spreading infection will eventually affect persons who are vulnerable to severe cases of the disease, such as the elderly and those with comorbidities.
This may lead to more hospitalizations, which could overwhelm the province’s healthcare system, and possibly more deaths.
“Perteng daghana na ang atong e-contact trace, magkabuang na ang atong contact-tracing system unya exhausted na ra ba intaw ning atoang mga BHERTs, ang atoang mga MHO na nangautas na intawn ni sila og sige’g pang contact trace,” he said.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Governor Art Yap said there was a 608.3-percent surge in COVID-19 cases among newly arrived persons in a five-day span from March 3 to March 8.
Executive Order No. 17 which eased entry protocols in the province took effect on March 3. The directive only requires one negative result of an RT-PCR test administered 72 hours prior to arrival or upon arrival, waiving the need for repeat testing on the fourth day and the previous requirement of a 14-day quarantine.
This was later amended on March 8 through EO 17-A which mandates that only results of tests done 72 hours prior to arrival will be accepted, disallowing testing upon arrival.
Yap admitted that the sudden increase was traced to have been due to the rising positive cases among arriving individuals.
“Niabot sa atong atensyon ang concern nga gipadangat sa atong Health and Medical Task Group sa BIATF nga maoy nagtan-aw sa monitoring ug pagreview sa atong mga datos. Ang kalit nga pagsaka sa mga kaso gikan sa pundok sa Returning Residents, APORs, ug Returning OFWs nakapa alarma kanila,” the governor said.
According to Ong, the surge in cases was the expected outcome of the relaxed protocols.
He said the BMS has repeatedly warned the provincial government against the easing of entry safety measures.
“As expected g’yud na. Bisan si Dr. Loreche, ang atong pathologist sa DOH-7, nisulti g’yud siya daan ana na ‘when you do a relaxation sa protocol, expect gyud ka og surge’ so that is why emphasize on the preparedness before we undertook unta ning pag-relax,” he added.
Ong said that having just one testing protocol which is the 72-hour RT-PCR result is better than allowing testing to be done upon arrival as the latter option exposes individuals to possible infection from their co-passengers during their sea or air trips to Bohol.
He however noted that 72-hour testing at the place of origin is still not foolproof.
He said the arriving person still has ample time to be infected with the disease within the 72 hours in which he or she is required to undergo testing in their places of origin.
“Better ni siya than mo huwat ta na diri na magtest pero ang danger ani is during sa 72 hours gikan siya na gikuhaan sa iyang PCR test didto, naa pa siya exposure. Taas ra kaayo ng 72 hours kay pwede ra ganig one hour after ka magpatest, ma expose na ka,” Ong said.
According to Ong, the BMS will be issuing this week a statement “strongly” recommending changes to the current protocols.
The BMS is just waiting for more feedback from municipal and city health offices before it releases its recommendations. (R. Tutas)