Zamboanga City needs more oxygen amid uptick in COVID cases: officials


Posted at Oct 14 2021 03:28 PM

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MANILA – Zamboanga City is facing a shortage of medical oxygen as it battles an uptick of COVID-19 cases, an official said Thursday.

The inter-agency task force on COVID-19 on Wednesday approved the placing of Zamboanga City under modified enhanced community quarantine, the second strictest quarantine classification, as it continues to struggle with the highly infectious disease.

In an interview on ANC’s Rundown, Zamboanga City COVID-19 Task Force spokesperson Atty. Kenneth Beldua said there are 2,605 active COVID-19 cases in the city.

Of this, 2,576 are attributable to community transmission, he added.

“Our patients, most of the patients are asymptomatic, and they are doing isolation in some of our isolation facilities. Some are doing home isolation.”

“Around five percent are critical or severe; that is, they are admitted at our hospitals, some of them are in our [intensive care units].”

“The challenge really is the lack of oxygen supply, as our private hospitals here had no choice but to deny the admission of some patients needing oxygen,” Beldua said.

He also noted that hospital bed occupancy rate in the city is now at a critical 86 percent.

“The bed occupancy rate right now is at 86 percent, which is considered at a critical level, and the Zamboanga City Medical Center, which is the center for referrals for COVID cases--not only in the city of Zamboanga but also in the entire region of Zamboanga--is already at a maximum capacity.”

“You know, the emergency room has already been converted into a ward, and most of the patients are already admitted at the hallways of the hospital because no other private hospitals would accept them,” he said.

Isolation facilities in the city are also now 79 percent occupied, he added.

Beldua said they are now coordinating with the national government for the delivery of more oxygen tanks.

“On the lack of oxygen supply, we have made the necessary coordination with our national inter-agency task force, and the city government also is in the process of procuring these oxygen tanks.”

Beyond this, however, Beldua said they also need more vaccines in their area.

“As we know very well the situation in the [National Capital Region] is already improving. This could be attributed to the fact that there has been a massive vaccination in the different cities in Metro Manila, whereas here in Zamboanga we are dependent on the supply being delivered to us from the Department of Health.”

“So we believe that if the national government could send us more vaccines, then we can address this problem,” he said.

Beldua said they have fully vaccinated 146,749 persons, or 21 percent of their target population.

“It is worthy to note that once the vaccines arrive in Zamboanga, we have a very efficient rollout of these vaccines,” he added. 

Beldua also said they are improving the isolation facilities in the city.

“Insofar as the problem on hospitalization is concerned, we are now converting some of our isolation facilities, there are two here in the city, one that is located near the Mindanao Central Sanitarium General Hospital, and there is an isolation facility there, we are converting it into a step-up facility together with the Pasonanca Convention Center.” 

“When we say step-up facilities, these are intended to have a semi-hospital setting where those exhibiting moderate symptoms such as difficulty of breathing can already be accommodated with a provision of the needed supplies and equipment in order to address their concern.”

“With this strategy and with the completion of the mega-isolation facility we can expect that our hospitals will be decongested and we will be able to address the isolation aspect of COVID,” he explained. 

--ANC, 14 October 2021