BACOLOD CITY - Three cabinet officials are set to meet with Bacolod City leaders on Thursday, Aug. 27, to assess the COVID-19 situation and determine what immediate assistance the national government can extend to the city to help contain the spread of the virus.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia said Sen. Bong Go sent him a text message informing him that the contingent will be led by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Sec. Michael Lloyd Dino, and Gen. Mel Feliciano.
Cimatu was also sent by President Rodrigo Duterte to Cebu on a special mission to help the LGU there at the height of the COVID crisis. Feliciano worked with Cimatu in the Cebu mission, according to Leonardia.
Go informed Leonardia that the group will meet with city and Negros Occidental officials, too.
Leonardia said that Dino promised him that the national government “will go all the way” and give “full support” to help Bacolod City.
He added that Gen. Robert Ancan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Visayas Command Center in Cebu, in a follow-up call, also promised to field, as soon as possible, a medical team composed of army doctors, nurses, and support health workers to augment the dwindling number of health workers as they themselves are struck with COVID-19, while some have resigned.
Ancan assured the mayor also of further medical equipment support after an evaluation.
Leonardia said that Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of the National Task Force on COVID-19, will try his best to join the Thursday meeting. However, if he cannot make it, Galvez assured the mayor he will come to Bacolod next week.
He added that Galvez promised to deploy Region 7 nurses and doctors to Bacolod, and that he will also arrange with the Department of Health Region 6 to bring in more medical personnel.
He will also put in place, through DOH Region 6, arrangements with certain Bacolod hotels to serve as “bend-down” facilities to take in recovering COVID patients who will be discharged earlier from hospitals, to be able to admit new critically-ill COVID patients.
Galvez assured Leonardia that he will “deploy 5 High-Flow Nasal Cannula” to the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, and facilitate the provision of Remdesivir, an antiviral drug now on trial use for seriously-ill COVID patients, in the said hospital.
On Tuesday, Leonardia made an urgent appeal to Duterte to send to Bacolod an augmentation team of 150 nurses, 20 doctors, and 30 medical technologists from the DOH as an “emergency stop-gap measure” before the city’s health care system bogs down due to the pandemic.
Bacolod IATF Chairman Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran said the intervention of the national government is much needed because the health care system in the city is on the brink of collapsing.
“We need doctors and nurses, health care workers. Very important na siya,” he said.
As of this writing, Bacolod City has 15 new cases, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 765.