CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Sep. 16 (PIA)–The Department of Health (DOH)-10 calls for leaders in the communities to become BIDA Bastonero as local transmission surges especially in Northern Mindanao.
In a virtual media forum, dubbed Talakayan sa PIA, Dr. Ian Christian Gonzales, DOH-10 head of infectious cluster, shared the surge of cases in the region has already begun that is why it is important assign an individual in barangays, offices, even the streets and households to look out for people who are not practicing the BIDA Solusyon: B-Bawal ang walang mask; I-isanitize ang kamot; D-distansya ug isa ka metro, ug A-aksyon bahin sa insaktong impormasyon.
The surge of local transmission has been a cause of concern for the public health sector, Gonzales admitted. He explained there are two ways to approach this problem: pre-emptive and curative. Pre-emptive is about the information campaign and risk communication while curative is the preparedness of hospitals and health facilities.
In terms of hospitals, Gonzales said they have expanded additional beds specific for COVID-19 at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), as the COVID referral hospital. Meanwhile, aside from NMMC all level 2 and 3 hospitals public and private hospitals are able to handle COVID patients, he added.
“Based on our regulatory guidelines, private hospitals need at least 10 percent of their bed capacity intended for No Balance Billing including COVID. Aside from that, we encourage them to increase even up to 30 percent of their current bed capacity,” he said.
Not all COVID infected have to be admitted to the hospital, Gonzales shared, only those admitted are with severe or critical cases particularly needing breathing tubes. However, around 90 percent of the cases in the region are either asymptomatic or mild, which is a both a good thing and a bad thing, he shared.
If 90 percent are asymptomatic, meaning they can be managed outside the hospital. “We are happy that local government units (LGUs) are doing their best to establish isolation units or Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities (TTMFs). Despite this, he said, “We have to strengthen or continue the preventive measures same as BIDA solusyon. We cannot be complacent because we have the facilities, it is important to focus and not to forget the prevention side.”
It is still better to prevent, he said.
There are schools of thought about herd immunity without the vaccine. The symptoms are just mild so it is not much of a concern. But, Gonzales explained that it only works if everyone gets a mild disease. “But here in the country, we have extended family, we have grandparents living in one house, so it is high risk. Plus, it has not worked in other countries, that will definitely not work in the Philippines.”
So far there are already four COVID 19 laboratories in Northern Mindanao including NMMC, regional office of DOH, Polymedic Plaza, and Xavier University Maria Reyna Hospital, and with the latest addition of the Local Government of Lanao del Norte. But Gonzales said these are still not enough.
The only way to keep the economy open is to keep workers healthy. To maintain that, he explained there is a need to expand testing to all sectors. Frontliners are not just in government but employees in the malls, bank, hotels, restaurants, among others. They need to be tested regularly to be sure these industries are safe. “We can’t do that right now because our capacity is not enough,” he explained.
One of the first things in any disease is to have a diagnosis. If an individual doesn’t have a diagnosis, he or she doesn’t have treatment. That is why the laboratory is very important, he shared.
Gonzales also urged those who have been exposed to COVID-19 positive or have had a travel history to high COVID-19 local transmission areas to speak honestly about their condition to the health workers.
“We should not be ashamed of having COVID 19 because it is not our fault. We do all the preventive measures, but there is still a chance that we can get the virus,” he said. Health workers don’t blame the patient.
“Just like with other diseases, HIV, TB with high stigma, we don’t blame the patient why he or she has the disease,” he said.
“We should not hide our true condition because we put everyone at risk. We have to be honest to improve case detection. We have to be honest to improve contact tracing,” Gonzales stressed.
The mode of transmission for COVID-19 is still through respiratory droplet. Unlike airborne, the virus from COVID 19 has a limited range of one to two meters before it falls to the ground.
Gonzales urged the public to become leaders and role models in following the BIDA Solusyon because if people will not participate in preventing the spread of virus, “We cannot defeat COVID-19.” (JMOR/PIA10)