• Melo Acuna

More than 9 million Filipinos will be tested soon

Cebu City has more cases than Metro Manila; preparations on for the return of some 5,000 Filipinos from Sabah

MANILA – Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said the government had no other recourse but heighten the quarantine status of bustling Cebu city from General Community Quarantine (GCQ) to Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) as recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases and approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Speaking at a briefing early Friday evening, Secretary Galvez said the number of COVID-19 positive cases in Cebu City has surpassed that of the whole of the National Capital Region. He added the number of severe and critical cases increased in different hospitals in the city and that the number of fatalities likewise increased.

Secretary Galvez said even private hospitals have recorded a market increase in admission of severe and critical cases.

“We sent a surveillance team from the Department of Health (DOH) Central Office to find out the real situation in the whole of Cebu. To assure everyone of prompt response, we already talked with Presidential Adviser for Central Visayas Michael Lloyd Diño, Governor Gwen Garcia and all the municipal and city mayors of Cebu last June 11 and 12,” Secretary Galvez said.

He said they all agreed to augment the existing number of Health personnel in the region which include nursing staff at the leading hospitals. They will also augment the hospital rooms at the four leading hospitals in Cebu to accommodate the increasing number of patients and reduce their waiting time at emergency rooms.

“We have also increased by 25 high-flow nasal cannula or non-invasive ventilators. 42,000 PPEs and 16,000 masks which include N95 masks needed by different hospitals. We also thank businessman Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporation for thee ventilators he donated.” Secretary Galvez said in his address.

He added they have also advised the local government units and the uniformed service to strictly enforce the existing quarantine protocols. The chief implementer said there have been critical and containment areas.

“There are 19 of this kind in Cebu while there are eight in the National Capital Region,” Secretary Galvez said.

He said the government has procured 239,857 Rapid Test-PCR test kits which can subject 8,544,282 persons to screening. He added the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management will buy additional 15,700 test kits which can test 1,293,750 persons.

“Having all these test kits, we will now be able to test 9,893,032 persons,” he said.

He reported the operations of 62 accredited testing laboratories with 46 RT-PCR laboratories and 16 GeneExprt labs. There are still 156 laboratories up for accreditation and issuance of their respective licenses. The National Capital Region (NCR) has 27 testing laboratories while there are 17 in Southern and Northern Luzon, seven in the Visayas and nine in Mindanao. Of the 62 laboratories, 40 are public laboratories while 22 are privately-run.

Of the 52,870 contact tracers, there are 4,383 police personnel, 1,332 from the Bureau of Fire Personnel and Armed Forces of the Philippines support.

Secretary Galvez reported the departure from Clark of 2,272 overseas workers after two to three days waiting for COVID-19 test results.

As of today, 54,260 overseas Filipino workers including seafarers have returned to their respective homes. They are also expecting the arrival of 42,000 displaced overseas workers anytime soon.

“We have also assisted some 30,495 locally stranded individuals through the Hatid Probinsya program but we are regulating the program after some of those assisted individuals brought COVID-19 infection to their towns,’ he said.

“We are preparing to receive over 5,000 stranded individuals in Sabah, Malaysia. We will proceed to Zamboanga City next week to coordinate with BARMM and city officials,” he further explained. (Melo M. Acuña)

Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. (Screen grab from RTVM/PCOO)

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