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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, August 20, 2020
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with Matè Espina

Trial and error

Rock & Refuge

We now stand at over 169,000 cases of COVID-19 in our country. Mid-July, we started seeing over a thousand cases daily and less than a month later, we are averaging 4,000+ a day. Some analysts claim there are more cases than reported and within this month we may even breach the 200,000 mark.

I’ve stopped following the Department of Health especially after reports came out that they erroneously included in their recovered list, patients who actually died of COVID-19. As one of the lead agencies, the DOH has added more problems than solutions.

Thus, while other countries are jubilantly declaring they have not had a single case in weeks, ours seem to be peaking. Weeks after the government bragged of their recovery plan, we are going downhill instead of up. Instead of an established protocol, we are still on trial and error.

Locally, our cases are climbing and while weeks back we were nonchalant about it because most are asymptomatic, we are now seeing daily death reports and the spread has hit more than half of our barangays already.

We have been calling for transparency, yet it fell on deaf ears. We continue to follow the directive from the national government that we stay on MGCQ yet we see Iloilo City defying the order by moving to a stricter GCQ to curb their community transmission.

A post of PR man, Alan Gensoli, has been going viral as he seeks answers to the many WHYs he wants the local government to respond to, particularly on why Iloilo can upgrade their quarantine status and why we cannot amidst the desperate cry of the medical community to give them some “timeout.”

Of course it is not easy to defy national directives but seeing how the numbers of medical frontliners have been dwindling either because they have contracted the virus or have been ordered to quarantine, something has to give.

A local official who does not want to be quoted admitted that there is “serious shortage” of frontliners and most of our hospitals are clearly short-staffed already. CLMMRH, the only government hospital in the city, has been closing down quarters for disinfection or because their personnel are mostly under quarantine.

Despite utmost care for their own personal protection, a breach in the protocol, particularly in donning and doffing protective gears is unavoidable. I cannot overemphasize the danger our frontliners are facing especially that the stigma of COVID makes stupid people lie about their history. Thus even with a strict triage, a breach is unavoidable.

I know some doctors who rented apartments so they don’t get to bring the virus home to their love ones. My doctor-niece seems to have developed a split personality as one day she will rant out of frustration and the next day she turns mushy and cry about her colleagues and friends who have tested positive.

And clearly the frustration is felt by many who shared Alan’s post as there are so many questions we want answered. How many quarantine facilities are there and is there a move to add more or not?

Isolating the positives is crucial but it should not stop there. A friend of mine has been taken from his home for being positive. He has been placed in a quarantine area but contrary to reports that they are monitored daily, he asked someone to bring him a thermometer and a BP apparatus so he can monitor his vitals. His family just went on voluntary lockdown, still waiting to be swabbed two weeks later.

Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran admitted yesterday a possible collapse of enforcement at the barangay level if more barangay officials and workers will be placed on quarantine. Brgy. Taculing he cited, has no more available tanods as they have all been deployed to man affected homes.

A member of the city’s Task Force Disiplina has been found dead in his home. He reportedly had fever days before his demise and has been swabbed post-mortem for the virus. Sad thing is, nobody was around to bury him as his wife and kids are in the United States and he has no one here to mourn his passing.

In contrast is this city employee who celebrated his birthday four days before his results came out positive. He probably thought it was okay since Gen. Debold Sinas went scot-free with his mananita celebration. Such an irresponsible act and I hope the city government will act on this seriously. Imagine the contact tracing, testing and isolation of those who attended his birthday, and at whose expense – government?

Mayor Bing Leonardia and Gov. Bong Lacson joined a consultative conference the other day to discuss additional measures to curb the community transmission. I hope they come out with stricter guidelines soon as our numbers are rising daily.

As Alan pointed out, “We need symbols now (before cremation) that we are doing something correct. We need something new to justify to ourselves that it’s ok to remain in MGCQ now until end of the month. Because we do not contest it for the sake of contesting it. In fact, we pray our LGU is right.”*

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