‘Isabela, Cagayan, Benguet COVID-19 areas of concern’

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Isabela, Cagayan and Benguet have been flagged by the OCTA Research Group as provinces of concern due to their high number of COVID-19 cases and critical healthcare utilization rate.

Citing data from the Department of Health (DOH), OCTA said the three provinces have critical indicators, including average daily attack rate (ADAR), hospital bed and intensive care unit (ICU) utilization and positivity rate.

ADAR refers to the average number of new cases per day per 100,000 people. The positivity rate measures those found infected out of the total tests conducted.

Isabela recorded an average of 620 new cases per day, up 158 percent from Sept. 15 to 21. This translates to an ADAR of 36.43, way above the critical threshold of 25 new cases per day per 100,000 people.

Isabela had 90 percent hospital bed and 94 percent ICU utilization rates and positivity rate of 43 percent.

The World Health Organization said the ideal positivity rate is five percent or less.

While the number of average daily new cases in Cagayan dropped by one percent at 486, its ADAR remains critical at 37.79.

Cagayan had 87 percent hospital and ICU utilization rates and positivity rate of 50 percent.

Benguet recorded an average of 455 new cases per day during the same period, up 29 percent from the preceding week. Its ADAR was at 53.

The province had 96 percent hospital and 90 percent ICU utilization rates and positivity rate of 40 percent.

OCTA said the provinces of Laguna and Bataan also had critical ADAR, ICU and positivity rates.

Hospital bed utilization rate in the two provinces was considered high based on data from the DOH.

OCTA said it noted increases in average daily new cases in Pangasinan at 552 (up 17 percent), Negros Occidental at 340 (up 18 percent), Nueva Ecija at 279 (up 13 percent), Camarines Sur at 254 (up 53 percent) and Zamboanga del Sur at 242 (up 38 percent).

Non-essential travel banned in Baguio, Benguet towns

As this developed, the mayors of Baguio City as well as La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay in Benguet suspended non-essential travel in their areas in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan said the travel ban, which was agreed during a recent meeting of local chief executives and representatives of local government units, would start today until Oct. 3.

As of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, the Benguet provincial health office recorded 334 new infections, with 18 deaths.

Baguio logged 211 new cases and six deaths.

In Pangasinan, 373 new cases and 15 deaths were recorded on Tuesday. The province has 3,422 active cases.

Pangasinan recorded its highest daily infections at 878 on Sept. 13.

More health workers needed in Bacolod

Meanwhile, Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia appealed to the DOH to deploy additional personnel and medical equipment to the city as COVID cases rise.

Leonardia said the city has only 230 health workers left while hospital bed occupancy is at a critical level of 87 percent.

“We sounded the alarm bells to the DOH,” he said.

The DOH had earlier placed Bacolod, Negros Occidental, Iloilo City and Iloilo province under Alert Level 4 for COVID cases. – Artemio Dumlao, Eva Visperas, Gilbert Bayoran

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