Cebu actions hailed
Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - May 24, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Amidst the increasing number of COVID-19 cases here, National Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. is satisfied with Cebu’s actions against the disease.

Galvez, during yesterday’s virtual press conference with deputy chief implementer Secretary Vivencio “Vince” Duzon and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, said he was alarmed but pleased with the efforts Cebu has implemented, especially with the Balik Buhay program.

“On behalf of President Duterte I'm happy on the preparedness of Cebu, the collective decision and collaborative response of the people of Cebu. We are very comfortable. I'm happy to report to the President of the greatness of the people's response against COVID,” Galvez said.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Senator Bong Go are reportedly coming to personally check the situation here.

“To tell you frankly, personally, I’m also alarmed, but now, nakita ko, maganda naman pala ang pinuntahan natin. Nakita natin ang lugar, at makita natin ang aktual na sitwasyon. Akoy natutuwa na napakaganda ng coordination ng LGUs, coordination ng mga private sector at saka namakaganda ng leadership na nakikita namin dito katulad ng leadership na ginagawa ni Secretary Dino, na he was able to mobilized ass  public and private sector. Ito ay isang magandang model din,” said Galvez.

It was also the first time, Galvez said, that a massive testing of the rapid anti-body has been conducted although it is also a model that was being used in Manila, but not as intensive as in Cebu.

OFWs

In line with this, Galvez also assured OFWs that they are welcome here.

“We know that OFWs will be coming back, and nandito ang mga implementers to support us to add more labs for testing para ang OFW nato they can come back at the same time, be tested and instead of waiting for a week or two, we have to an additional labs so that in a day or two, they can already go back to their homes,” said Dino.

Half- a-million OFWs are expected to go home following the shutdown of businesses in the Middle East although it was not specify how many are from Cebu and the Visayas area.

Dizon assured that they will help address concerns of LGUs here in the preparations for the “re-opening of the economy.”

There are three existing molecular laboratories in the region, said DOH Regional director Dr. Jaime Bernadas. These are the ARC Hospital in Lapu-Lapu City, the Cebu Molecular Laboratory under the DOH regional office and the one at Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center.

“The key to really preventing another wave of this virus, and also the key to slowly re-opening the economy in Cebu is to build up our testing capacity for PCR test,” said Dizon.

Major Things

Right now, there are three major things for the region--increasing the capacity of the two existing government labs, delivery of two automatic extraction machines and the establishment of two more laboratories.

“What these machines do is they increase exponentially the number of tests per day of the two existing labs,” said Dizon.

The two machines can do a minimum of two thousand tests per day.

“We also want to add two more labs in Cebu, one at the Mactan airport, and there will also be a private lab in Cebu Doctors (University Hospital) donated by Unilab,” said Dizon. These will be due for accreditation in two to three weeks’ time.

Aside from that, Dizon said there will also be a Red Cross lab here as promised by Senator Dick Gordon that will have a capacity of four thousand tests per day. Another one will be set up in Bohol.

“Kung e add natin lahat yun, you are looking a capacity of 10 thousand test per day, so that is our goal for the Central Visayas,” added Dizon.

For Galvez: “If we lower our guards upon travel, tourism and we are not prepared for it. We are now preparing the protocol to prevent the occurrence of the second wave,” he said. These include the setting up of one-stop-shop testing centers at the airports and ports.”

Galvez said that the country is winning the fight against COVID-19.

“I believe yes, we are winning the war,” he said, noting that the number of recoveries has increased while the new cases are on a plateau and the number of deaths now ranges from a low of four to 11 since May 16.

“Out of 13,000 cases, 9,800 are active with most of them 80 percent are asymptomatic; meaning our cases now are getting manageable,” Galvez said.  LPM (FREEMAN)

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