MANILA – The Philippines is sending more doctors, drones and other resources to Cebu City amid signs that the key center is becoming the country’s new epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic.
“You can just see the numbers,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano told ABS-CBN News Channel on Monday June 29.
Cebu has now more than 5,500 cases of Covid-19 and at least 156 have died there, said the Ministry of Health on Saturday June 27.
The city now has more cases than the largest city in the metropolis of Manila, Quezon, which has about 3,000.
It also exceeds other cities in terms of the number of cases in the past two weeks: nearly 1,000. In comparison, Quezon City had 364 and Manila 280.
Cebu is the first commercial and tourist center in the center of the Philippines with a population of around one million.
“Cebu City was the location of Metro Manila when it saw an increase in Covid-19 cases from March 24 to April 13,” said Carlito Galvez, who heads a task force overseeing government efforts. to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Monday.
“We are witnessing an alarming increase in serious and critical cases … even death rates.”
He reported that in a hospital, 86 of the 122 Covid-19 patients died within 48 hours of admission: “This means that we don’t detect serious cases quickly enough.”
Three out of 10 suspected Covid-19 patients in Cebu test positive.
Hospital beds are exhausted and health workers are exhausted and overwhelmed.
Galvez said there are only seven large hospitals in Cebu that can handle an increase in coronavirus cases. In comparison, Metro Manila has at least 46 of these hospitals.
The city’s largest hospital has 46 doctors, 79 nurses and 68 other quarantined staff, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
Many patients are on waiting lists because the hospitals are already full.
“The morale of our nurses is just very low right now. They need a lot of support,” said Dr. Peter Mancao, public relations officer for the Cebu Medical Society.
Many nurses have wanted to quit because of “fear of the unknown” and lack of compensation for the risks they take, said Dr. Joseph Stephen Descallar, president of the Cebu section of the Philippine Nurses Association.
The Ministry of Health sends around 40 of its rural doctors to Cebu to reinforce the health workers.
But some of these doctors have complained about their deployment without clear guidelines for their safety, protection, housing and insurance coverage.
They feared that agreements with hospitals where they would be posted could lead to abuse.
The military also sends a team of nine doctors, 10 nurses and 13 medical assistants.
Special police, drones and helicopters are also deployed to help the government enforce restrictions on home shelters and movement.
Cebu has been locked out since Wednesday June 24. A hundred checkpoints have been set up in the city to ensure that everyone stays at home while only those on the “essential tracks” can get out.
Galvez said that outside of Cebu, the rest of the Philippines appears to be in control, although around 1,000 new cases are still reported daily.
“From acceleration, we are now witnessing a deceleration,” he said.
He said that most of the previous hot spots like Metro Manila now present “low to moderate risks”.
He said the country’s “positivity rate” – the number of confirmed cases against those tested – fell to 6%, below the 10% threshold set by the World Health Organization.
“We are winning in terms of thresholds,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson, Harry Roque, criticized those who criticized the government’s response: “If the government had not acted quickly, we could have seen three million cases now instead 30,000 “.
The health ministry reported 985 new cases on Monday, bringing the total to 36,438. Eleven others died, bringing the number to 1,255.