NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
The recent surge in the number of active Covid-19 cases in the province has sent alarm signals of a possible “uncontrolled outbreak” of the disease.
This fear was raised by six medical groups led by the Bohol Medical Society who sent an urgent four-page appeal to Gov. Art Yap to take drastic action in order to save the province from a worsening pandemic situation.
Bohol registered the highest incidence of new cases last Wednesday at 64 cases in one day which alarmed health authorities.
The medical community told the governor that the characteristic patterns of an impending outbreak are present in the recent surge such as the clustering of cases in the households, workplaces and neighborhoods.
“These will eventually lead to ever wider circles of transmission that will be most difficult to contain once it reaches a critical level exceeding the healthcare capacity and the ability of the Emergency Operation Center to contain the cases,” the letter appeal of the doctors group stressed.
The governor who chairs the Bohol Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) was strongly urged to initiate a program to reinforce the execution of the minimum social health measures.
The doctors group noticed that the minimum health standards have been shunned by many due to “Covid -fatigue” or “outright denial of the existence of the danger of the pandemic.”
These health measures should be enforced especially in places where people from different households converge.
Wearing masks in the proper way should be strictly enforced in all places at all times while wearing a face shield should be added in critical danger areas such as supermarkets, offices, churches and in public transportation. Maintenance of 1.5 meter social distancing with prolonged exposure to other people should be followed.
RT- PCR TESTING
RT-PCR testing should be required for all individuals on Day 5 of arrival from any place outside of Bohol. This was proposed instead of the existing protocol of just bringing a “negative PCR result” from their point of origin.
The medical groups warned of making exceptions in the standard protocols.
The RT-PCR testing should be done for all close contacts including those who are asymptomatic.
The doctors appealed that BIATF should exert efforts to properly assessed “home quarantine” in homes where patient should have his own room, to be monitored by barangay personnel to make sure that quarantine individuals do not go out or mingle with other persons.
The doctors were short of saying that government-run quarantine facilities are far safer than allowing the home quarantine.
It may be recalled that at the start of the pandemic last year, the public was always against allowing home quarantine of Covid patients. Isolation of mild or asymptomatic cases should be done in “isolation center.”
The importance of having effective contact tracers was stressed by the doctors saying that tracers should be given breaks or rotated in order to keep them from going into fatigue.
In this rising Covid case, they see the need for “more contact tracing especially in the absence of quarantine and testing safety nets.
The BIATF should strengthen the public campaign to counter the Covid denial mentality that pervades in some social media groups.
The campaign to get ready for vaccination is also urgent at this point time while the vaccines for the general public are still arriving. while the private sector should be supported of its initiative to procure vaccines for the local businesses .
UNITED AS ONE
The letter to Gov. Yap was jointly signed by the respective presidents of six medical groups, namely by the Bohol Medical Society (Dr. Jefferson Ong); Dr. Kazan BenignoBaluyot (Phil College of Physicians-Bohol Chapter); Dr. PraxedesLadesma (Bohol Child Health Care Advocates); Dr. Dorothy Gay Dumaluan (Phil Academy of Family Physicians, Bohol Chapter); Dr. Rey PerpeteoBelderol (Association of Municipal .Health Officers of the Phils) and Dr. Lalaine de los Santos (Diabetes Phils, Bohol Chapter).
The medical groups vowed to assist in the efforts to have a “united front setting aside personal ulterior motives” in order to bring the best outcome for the Boholanos.