February 5, 2023

Baguio doctors have raised the alarm on the continuous and abrupt increase in Covid-19 cases beginning in the last week of September up to the present.

Last Sunday, members of the Baguio-Benguet Medical Society met with Mayor Benjamin Magalong where they asked for a 10-day “time-out” and asked for the possibility of reverting to general community quarantine to give time for hospitals to treat and care for patients currently confined.

The request will avoid the possibility that there will no longer be available beds and medical equipment to be used especially by patients classified as severe or critical, and to also give time to some hospital personnel to also recover from the infection.

Doctors who attended the meeting said most hospitals in Baguio are close to reaching the maximum capacity of beds intended for Covid-19 patients.

Data posted in the websites of the City Health Services Office and the Department of Health also showed there are only a few isolation beds left in hospitals as well as in Sto. Niño Jesus and Teachers’ Camp isolation facilities.

As of Nov. 19, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center’s 47-bed and Baguio Medical Center’s three-bed isolation facilities are already full; Pines City Doctors Hospital; 12 out of 17 beds for Saint Louis University Hospital of the Sacred Heart; eight out 13 for Notre Dame de Chartres Hospital or only 12 beds available for the city’s hospitals combined.

For the Sto. Niño Jesus isolation facility, 85 out of the 90 beds are occupied, 106 out of 116 at the Roxas Hall and 52 out of the 112 for the Hernandez Hall of Teacher’s Camp.

Doctors also reported the increasing number of severe and critical patients admitted in the city’s various hospitals, and most are senior citizens.

Patients classified as severe are those who have symptoms of the Covid-19 plus they exhibit a drop in oxygen levels, and those classified as critical are those requiring intubation to support their breathing or have to undergo dialysis.

For the BGHMC alone, infectious diseases specialist Dr. Thea Pamela Cajulao reported in a press conference that data for September showed there were four senior citizens classified as severe and six critical. For October, there was a sudden jump in numbers where 20 were classified severe, 10 critical, and for November, 20 have been classified severe and six critical. One death was recorded in September, 10 in October, and four this month.

City officials have yet to discuss whether to revert to GCQ. As initial response, Magalong issued last Nov. 16 Executive Order 170 directing those who are 64 years old or older to strictly stay at home from Nov. 17 to 27.

For November alone, 44 senior citizens tested positive for Covid-19.

“The city government respects and recognizes the need and desire of our senior citizens to leave the confines of their homes. However, our recent Covid-19 data showed that among our active cases since Nov.1, 44 are over the age of 65. This has become a pressing concern as persons in this age group are most at risk of the effects of Covid-19, and a higher degree of medical attention is required for their care and recovery,” Magalong said in his EO.

Dr. Bernard Demot, also an infectious diseases specialist at the BGHMC, said those in the vulnerable population and those with co-morbidities take longer to recover hence the need to extend stay in the hospital, apart from the post-hospitalization care.

For BGHMC, the longest confinement of one of their Covid-19 patients is 55 days – 21 days in the Covid ward and 34 days for the treatment of the patient’s other diseases.

Doctors attribute the continuing increase in cases to the public’s relaxed adherence to minimum health protocols.

“Habang tumatagal, nagiging lax ang compliance natin,” Cajulao said pointing out that although the city’s expanded testing and thorough contact tracing helps in identifying cases, people still get infected for they either forget or do not anymore follow health protocols.

Doctors remind that although the government has relaxed all quarantine restrictions, the virus remains and in the absence of a cure, following health protocol is still the best defense against the Covid-19. – Rimaliza A. Opiña