MANILA (UPDATE) - Iloilo City's mayor has appealed for more COVID-19 vaccines as infections spike and its hospitals get filled up.
The local, provincial, and national government have hired additional nurses, nursing aides and utility workers who will be deployed to both public and private hospitals, said Mayor Jerry Trenas.
"Ang mga ospital punuan na, mga ICU beds puno na rin, even the emergency rooms are filled up because patients are waiting to be accommodated in the room but the rooms are already full. As I have always said, we have to understand Iloilo City is a regional center and all referral hospitals are found here," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez and Health Secretary Francisco Duque had promised to send more vaccines "this week," Trenas said.
"Sinovac and some Pfizer. Hopefully they will come because we all know that the experience of developed countries--they were able to go back to at least normal when they started vaccinating people. You and I know we cannot be in quarantine forever. We all have to work," he said.
The city has so far administered first doses to some 45,000 residents out of its target 450,000. Some 9,000 have received their second doses, he added.
"It is very important we continue to observe the minimum health protocols even if you are vaccinated. We have cases of fully-vaccinated persons who continue to be infected," he said.
Government will allocate COVID-19 vaccines to priority and areas where infections are rising as soon as supply arrives, said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire. There are expected vaccine deliveries on June 27 and the first week of July, she added.
"Kailangan lang po natin mag-antay para dito sa iba pang parating na bakuna. Meron pong continuous allocations. As soon as vaccines arrive, it is allocated already," she said.
(We just need to wait for the upcoming supply of vaccines. There are continuous allocations.)
"Sana po ang local governments hindi lang po bakuna ang pangtapat sa pagtaas ng kaso, kailangan ho natin tuloy-tuloy na i-expand ang ating capacity sa mga ospital and temporary treatment facility and everybody has to follow the minimum (health) protocol."
(We hope local governments don't only rely on vaccines as cases rise. We need to continuously expand our hospital and temporary treatment facility and everybody has to follow the minimum protocol."
Local governments may recommend tightening of their quarantine status to the Inter-Agency Task Force Against COVID-19 and this will be reviewed within 24 hours, Vergeire said. Mayors may also implement granular lockdowns, she added.
The city, however, cannot afford to go on strict lockdown or enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) as it has no funds to support its population of 500,000, the mayor said.
"Medyo mahirap (It's difficult) because we were already MECQ (modified ECQ) for 4 weeks already. People are already complaining, they have no jobs, they cannot feed their families. Iloilo City continues to procure rice, canned goods but we can only do so much," he said.
"I know that cases are increasing but we really have to find the balance between economy and health. We cannot afford to give out support to everyone."
The Philippines aims to vaccinate at least 58 million individuals this year to achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus. A total of 8,050,711 jabs have been administered nationwide as of Friday since the country began its COVID-19 vaccination program in March, government said.
The city had 10,410 COVID-19 cases as of Saturday, of which 1,255 were active infections and 231 were deaths, according to health department data.