QUARANTINE DIARIES:We are not OK in Davao!

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 November) — For the longest time (March to Sept,2020), we were able to control COVID cases in our City. By design, SPMC (Southern Philippines Medical Center) was the only designated COVID hospital, supported by many isolation centers around the city. We had many restrictions to try to control community transmissions. And we were ok ……..until now.

Unfortunately, starting last month, the COVID cases started to go up in the community. Almost all barangays have been declared as high-risk areas. Several outbreaks of Covid were reported in several institutions including government offices. SPMC is close to full capacity most of the time. Same thing with private hospitals which were started to be opened up for COVID cases.

Isolation centers are now starting to convert into double-decked beds to accommodate more cases. Contact tracers are overwhelmed trying to track down cases. There are delays in picking up COVID patients to be brought to SPMC or isolation facilities. Healthcare workers are getting sick. Many doctors and nurses have been COVID patients themselves. Opening up more hospitals and centers is out of the question since staffing is now a problem. It won’t be long for us to see COVID patients on stretchers outside of hospital entrances waiting for vacant beds or for healthcare workers having to play God in choosing whom to give the limited ventilators to.

All these point to one obvious fact: our healthcare system is overwhelmed. That’s why the medical community called for a lockdown to arrest this COVID surge so that the HEALTHCARE SYSTEM OF DAVAO CAN RECOVER. That’s the whole point of the call for a lockdown. To continue to have lower cases requires discipline, which is a different matter altogether.

Theoretically, the idea behind the two-week lockdown is to assume everyone is positive. Let everyone stay at home to recover and to prevent them from infecting others. Historically, this lockdowns have been proven to reduce cases in Cebu and Manila during their own COVID surges.

We understand perfectly the difficulty in imposing a lockdown. The economic impact is tremendous. But I refuse to believe Davao does not have the money to assist the communities. If the Davao City Council can allot money for Davao thru the Mayor to extend help to Typhoon victims in Luzon, I’m pretty sure we have the money to help our very own for two weeks.

Kung magkamali ang medical community sa pag rekomenda ng lockdown , mapapahiya kami at mapagastos ang gobyerno ng malaki pero walang dagdag na maging biktima ng COVID. Kung ang political leaders magkamali sa desisyon na di mag- lockdown, mas maraming magkakasakit at mamamatay!

If we delay making decisions about COVID-19 control measures, eventually the virus will force us to make them, maybe not now but a few weeks later.

Eventually, it will be the political leaders who will have to make the call. The medical community can only recommend.

One thing is clear. Whatever the leaders will decide on (lockdown, zonal restrictions, etc) it will have to be stricter and more effective than what we are implementing now. That’s the only way out of this mess.  (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Dr. Bernard Chiew, a cardiologist, is chair of the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) national committee on external affairs and President of PCP-Southern Mindanao chapter from 2005 to 2006. He posted this on his FB page on Sunday, November 15. MindaNews was granted permission to share this piece)