THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
The continued increase in COVID-19 cases has alarmed the public while it awaits concrete steps to address the fast spreading of the virus in the province.
The Bohol Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) has not issued new public advisories ever since the active cases reached over 1,000 starting the second week of June.
The alarm worsened when several suspected COVID-19 patients could hardly be admitted at the various city hospitals due to the increasing number of patients admitted during the past weeks.
The overwhelming hospital admission came even as health authorities asked town residents to have their cases checked first by their municipal health officers to determine whether they have to proceed to the city hospitals or can be attended to at the district hospitals.
This alarming situation surfaced as the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has yet to operate soon in order that data on hospital occupancies and vacancies of beds designated for COVID patients can be seen and monitored.
Dr. Anthony Damalerio, chief of the Prov’l Disaster Risk Management Office, just before deadline last night informed the Chronicle that the EOC Room at TARSIER 117 Headquarters will be in place this week with joint personnel from the provincial Department of Health Gallares Hospital and Prov’l Health Office. The team will comprise the data management team with automated dashboard to provide real time data on occupancies of COVID beds in all hospitals in the province.
A ranking health official who declined to be identified said that this increasing number of COVID victims is indeed alarming amidst the dwindling number of hospital beds available.
It may be noted that since last month, reports on the shortage of nurses was the primary reason why hospitals have to decline admission of COVID patients.
The public awaits action from the BIATF on whether nurses assigned in the towns could be trained and re-assigned at the hospitals.
The Chronicle learned that the Department of Health (DOH) has not come up with its commitment to deploy government-paid nurses to private hospitals in order to augment their nursing manpower.
There is a need to improve the contact tracing, especially on those asymptomatics while the isolation is not properly monitored especially those quarantined in their homes.
“Contact traced as first-generation should not be allowed to go out of their residences until their swab test results will prove negative,” Dr. Jess Ong of the Bohol Medical Society said in an earlier interview.
A concerned health authority told the Chronicle that management of mild COVID cases at the district hospitals should be improved to prevent them progressing into moderate to severe to critical condition and will bring them to congest the Gov. CelestinoGallares Hospital as well as private hospitals having very limited beds for COVID patients.
The BIATF’s daily update highlights only the tabulation on the number of COVID cases (new, recovery, deaths).
Aside from these figures issued to the public twice daily, there are no advisories on things to do amidst the increasing number of cases which started during the month of May and worsened in June.
Dr. Ong who has ended his term as BMS president said that the “people’s behavior” has something to do with this increasing number of cases as seen in the gathering of people with less implementation of the basic health protocol on wearing of masks and social distancing.
The absence of road checkpoints to impose the distancing inside public utility vehicles is likewise noted to be a “super spreader.”
As to the entry of a new variant, BIATF has no validation to this effect but “behavior of the spread is telling.”
As of 9:30 am yesterday, a total of 1,403 active cases was reported by the BIATF withTagbilaran with the most number of cases at 314.
The top 12 towns are Inabanga 65, Dauis 58, Guindulman 48, Calape 45, Maribojoc 44, Sierra Bullones 43, Carmen 42, Balilihan 41, Bilar 39, Clarin 38, Alicia 37 and Candijay 35.