Improving response: DOH says Cebu City equipped to address COVID-19 surge

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 09 2020 02:44 PM

MANILA — A health official on Thursday said that Cebu City’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak is improving.

Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega, who is now the point person for critical care utilization of hospitals and chief of staff of Secretary Francisco Duque III, said they are closely monitoring the hospitals in Cebu City.

In early July, as COVID-19 cases increased in Region 7, the DOH revealed that Cebu hospitals have reached a critical level in terms of bed occupancy.

Vega, who was asked to stay behind in Cebu City, said private hospitals have been made to understand that they need to allot at least 20 percent of their beds for COVID-19 patients, with an additional 10 percent of beds “if ever there is a surge.”

He said the public hospital Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center is also required to allot more than 30 percent of its beds for COVID-19 patients. 

“Ang kanilang strategy to increase to 50 to 60 percent ang COVID wards nila to accommodate the surge,” Vega said during a Laging Handa briefing on Thursday.

(Their strategy is to increase to 50 to 60 percent the COVID wards to accommodate the surge.)

“Kayang-kaya naman ito dahil mayroon silang sapat na human resource at equipment na puwedeng makapagbigay ng medical attention sa mga critical and severe cases,” he said.

(This is doable because they have enough human resource and equipment to give medical attention to critical and severe cases.)

He said the DOH is addressing previous problems to allow Cebu City to have “better response and capacity.”

Vega said the situation in Cebu City has improved after it was placed under the stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

“Bumaba na ang rates ng kanilang positive dito sa Cebu dahil sa ECQ at mayroon na ring decreasing trend sa kanilang mortality rates. So effective ang ECQ dito sa Cebu right now,” he said.

(The rates of positive individuals in Cebu has gone down because of the ECQ. There is also a decreasing trend in their mortality rates.)

Data from the DOH website show a slight dip in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Cebu City based on the date of onset of illness. However, it is within the highlighted area, which DOH cautions could be incomplete “because of delays in reporting.”

From DOH COVID-19 tracker website

The same observation can be made on the date of deaths of COVID-19 patients in Cebu City. Again, the decreasing trend is within the highlighted portion, which can still go up depending on the upcoming release of data.

From DOH COVID-19 tracker website

Vega said they are currently preparing hospitals in Cebu for the reopening of the economy.

He said hospitals will need to have enough capacity and both private and public facilities should be networked for the proper referral of patients.

Asked if the DOH will suggest to ease the lockdown on Cebu City, Vega said: “Hindi pa natin masasabi 'yan. Kasi it’s too early to say.”

(We can’t say that yet. Because it’s too early to say.)

He said it would be discussed with the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 response.