Northern Samar health official blasts IATF for upgrading province to Alert 4

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 22 2022 01:38 PM | Updated as of Jan 22 2022 05:39 PM

MANILA—A health official of Northern Samar on Saturday criticized the country's pandemic inter-agency task force (IATF) for placing the province under Alert Level 4, even if their COVID-19 indicators were supposedly not critical. 

In a televised public briefing, Dr. Ninfa Caparroso-Kam said Northern Samar, which like other provinces were upgraded to the quarantine level until the end of the month, did not meet Alert 4 criteria. 

Kam said the province's average daily attack rate (ADAR) was at 3.25, well below the "7 or more" under Alert 4.

The ADAR is the number of new cases in an LGU over a 2-week period, divided by the population of the city or province.

"To be honest, kami po ay nagulat noong aming probinsya ay ginawang Alert Level 4. This is adding insult to the injury," Kam said. 

(We were shocked that our province was changed to Alert Level 4.)

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"Kung titingnan po natin ang ating statistics, ito ay ginagawa ng regional health office, ang aming ADAR is far from what we would consider na critical . . . If you look at the facts, if you look at our statistics, hindi kami dapat nandoon sa Alert Level 4," she noted.

(If we will look at the statistics made by the regional office, our ADAR is far from critical. We should not be placed under Alert Level 4.)

Kam added that their "doubling time" is between 84 and 100; under Alert 4, the number should be at 200.

She acknowledged, though, that the local government might have committed a "mistake" when it submitted the data on isolation beds. 

" ’Yung nasa isolation facility ay mga health workers na may symptoms kaya nandoon sila sa isolation. So akala nila na dapat i-include ito sa aming count sa bed tracker," she said. 

(Our unit thought the health workers in isolation should be included in the data regarding bed tracker.)

"I don’t know kung ano’ng ginamit nilang denominator, pero sana man lang vinalidate muna ito ng IATF before kami inislap ng Level 4."

(I hope the IATF validated our data first before they slapped Level 4 over our province.)

She also noted that the stricter restriction is "affecting our economy."

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said authorities were only following the data submitted to them. 

The health department has also yet to receive a letter regarding the Northern Samar dispute. 

"Kaya po napagdesisyunan is because they reached the metrics on this," she said. 

(This was decided after the province reached the metrics.)

"High risk na po ’yung kanilang health utilization, para po maibsan o makontrol muna ang kanilang kaso, at ma-manage natin ’yung kanilang health systems capacity."

(Their health utilization is already at high risk. This is also to control the cases and manage their health systems capacity.)

The Philippines is currently experiencing a fresh wave of COVID-19 infections most likely driven by the omicron variant. 

On Friday, the Department of Health confirmed nearly 33,000 new COVID-19 cases, pushing active infections to almost 300,000.