May 18, 2024

Authorities in the forefront of treatment and prevention of the Covid-19 in the Cordillera are cautioning of a possible surge of positive cases in the coming months and urged the public and concerned agencies to be on their feet and maintain vigilance in light of the observance of minimum health standards and future transition into the new normal.

Dr. Amelita Pangilinan, Department of Health-Cordillera director, said they see July to September, up to the end of the year as peak period of cases, as earlier projected by the national interagency task force.

She said they hope the region would be able to fight further virus transmission with strict observance of the so-called non-pharmaceutical interventions or the minimum health standards, such as avoiding crowds, natural ventilation, physical distancing, wearing of face mask, frequent hand washing, and cough etiquette, which she stressed is the backbone of response against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pangilinan said the increase in the number of laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 cases recently was expected due to the easing up of restrictions under the modified community quarantine in the region.

As of June 23, the Cordillera has 110 cases, 17 were recorded over the past week.

So far, she said the provincial governments in the region are coping well as the Covid-19 pandemic served as an acid test on the effectiveness of their respective health systems and capacity, as well as their preparedness and response plans.

“Now that all the provinces have cases already, they could say they are able to cope with the situation, but please remain vigilant and let us not take our guards down. We should all know and appreciate this by now,” Pangilinan said.

The Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, which is the main Covid-19 test and treatment center in Northern Luzon as a sub-national laboratory, has also emphasized the need to be prepared for the next wave of Covid-19 cases.  

In its official social media account, BGHMC Chief, Dr. Ricardo B. Ruñez, Jr., said a “functional and well-coordinated health care provider network is most essential at this time.”

“As we transition to a more open community quarantine, the challenge remains. We have to be prepared for the next wave. Our role as an apex hospital goes beyond just being an end referral center, but the lead among partner health institutions, whether public or private, to manage Covid-19 cases from primary to tertiary levels of care,” Ruñez said.

He said three months since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and as the region started being on community quarantine, BGHMC has continually adapted to everyday issues that arose, attributing to similar outbreaks like SARS and MERS-COV in the past, which made the hospital’s infection control team somehow more than equipped to handle the situation.

“But the challenges were more than what we expected. The whole government approach placed a big responsibility on our part to mitigate the spread of the infection. As we had effectively instituted policies on infection and prevention control, plus coping with the demands on our molecular laboratory, we could say that our hospital did reasonably well based on the recovery rate of positive cases as well as expanding the testing capability of our molecular laboratory,” he said.

“Although we have always been contemplating in adapting to the new normal, we have to be ready for change. In the meantime, let us continue to remain resolute in preparing for another surge.”

BGHMC Infectious Diseases specialist, Dr. Thea Cajulao, said considering the latest ca-ses in Baguio City, a surge can be expected anytime, saying cases could be incubating wherein symptoms still do not show as it takes around 14 days for them to manifest.

“So, we will see in the coming days if we will have that surge. Meron at merong darating (na cases),” Cajulao said.

She added BGHMC resident doctors continue to update themselves, especially in infection control policies, and as studies or researches come, they adjust or improve on existing policies so they would know more about the virus.

BGHMC Public Health Unit head, Dr. Leamor Fangonilo, said out of the 28 Covid-19-related cases that are currently admitted at the hospital, three of them are positive of the Covid-19 and are in stable condition.

“We are already preparing for the new and better operations of the hospital. At the same time, we have already prepared our response and recovery (plan) for Covid-19. Kung meron mang another pandemic, we are prepared,” Fangonilo said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana