MANILA - Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno believes the surge in COVID-19 cases in the city is aggravated by the detection of the more transmissible Delta variant in Northern Mindanao.
"We would not have experienced this surge if it were not for the variants being here. We have to take the conservative view. We are made to understand that whatever the variants may be, they cannot prevail over minimum health standards. These are the defenses the variants cannot overcome, plus the vaccination," Moreno told ABS-CBN News on Friday.
An entire family of seven, including grandparents, were immediately isolated in Cagayan de Oro on Thursday after they were confirmed infected with the COVID-19 Delta variant.
This brings the total number of Delta variant infections in the city to 13.
Moreno said, aside from the family, they found another Delta variant case in a different barangay. The mayor has ordered city health officials to check if the infectious variant has spread to the neighbors and close contacts of the new cases.
“Itong bagong batch, we have extracted them to the isolation facility and we are undertaking an intensive and comprehensive contact tracing up to the third degree. The close contacts were also put in the isolation facility,” he said.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise at over 100 a day in Region 10 in the past few weeks, the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, the region’s main government hospital attending to COVID-19 cases, raised its alert level to Code Red.
This means that the health care system’s limit has been reached and drastic measures are needed to address the problem.
Under Code Red, the hospital increased its COVID-19 bed capacity from 50% to 70% or 210 beds.
The NMMC also turned other wards into COVID-19 units so the hospital could admit more people who contracted the virus. But the surge in cases has also overwhelmed health workers.
“Whenever they would raise it to Code Red, ang issue talaga lagi diyan is (the issue there is always) manpower. Imagine, it’s not just an allocation of equipment per se… you also have to allocate people. Diyan ang problema. (That's the problem) I could feel it dahil (because) I’ve been raising it to them since we have a very good partnership with NMMC,” Moreno said.
A total of 192 patients are currently admitted at the NMMC, while many are still at the emergency room awaiting admission.
Just this year, the city government constructed an extension facility of the NMMC, which now caters to more COVID-19 patients from all over the region.
“Doon sa (Of the) 190, 110 ang nasa (are in the) ERID o Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases, the rest sa CERID (Center of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases). In May this year, the city donated a 2.5-hectare lot in Brgy. San Simon where we constructed this facility. The city spent P170 million for that building. I offered to donate that to NMMC. This facility will serve as temporary treatment and monitoring facility,” Moreno said.
He went on, “That was the main objective in case of a surge. We now have 80 there. Buti na lang meron 'yan (Good thing we have that). That facility is also being used by COVID patients from outside CDO.”
Still, the hospital, as well as other public and private hospitals in the city, are filled to the brim, with some patients now staying outside hospital buildings.
The city hospital, JR Borja General Hospital, is even undergoing transformation and renovation in hopes of addressing the problem.
“We are indeed experiencing a sharp rise in cases. Under normal conditions, all patients na gusto magpa-confine go through triaging and testing. Usually, one day naghihintay. Pero puno na rin, kahit NMMC, pati sa ER nila(Usually they wait for a day, but the facility remains full. Even NMMC, even their ER.) Yesterday, we monitored nasa 20-30. Pati sa private hospitals, though, not all. Even JR Borja, the city hospital,” Moreno said.
“Puno, puno talaga (Totally full.) We went through this last June. Over the weekend, we reported 300 cases. Ngayon, (now) we’re gonna report 124, lower than yesterday and the day before. Pero nasa 100 level. Medyo nasa surge pa rin (we're still in a surge)”
Cagayan de Oro City recorded 154 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday as active cases rose to 1,587. Of the active cases, 515 are admitted to hospitals—including moderate cases— while 1,072 are in quarantine facilities.
Moreno warned that the most vulnerable to the Delta variant are the unvaccinated population, that is why he also appealed to the national government for additional COVID-19 vaccines for the city.
He also advised his constituents: “Lagi kong sinasabi sa aking mga kababayan na let’s assume that the variants are here. Let’s not wait for the genomic laboratory to confirm. Depensa na tayo.”
(I always tell my residents to assume that the variants are here. Let's not wait for the genomic laboratory to confirm. Let's be on the defense.)