Red Cross exec urges MECQ for Bukidnon amid soaring COVID-19 cases

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 30 August) – A Philippine Red Cross (PRC) official here has urged the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force (PIATF) on COVID-19 to place Bukidnon under the stricter Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) as its coronavirus disease infection level is already nearing the “critical risk.”

Bukidnon has been under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) since August 18.

Roderico Bioco, PRC Bukidnon chair, cited the skyrocketing COVID-19 cases in Bukidnon in calling on officials to tighten the quarantine classification of the province from MGCQ to MECQ.

“We are no longer “high risk.” We are (now in) “critical level,” Bioco, former chair of the Bukidnon Kaamulan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told MindaNews.

The Provincial IATF placed Bukidnon under MGCQ even if its COVID-19 situation is classified as “high risk,” citing the need to allow the people to proceed with their livelihood while observing strict implementation of health protocols.

In a social media post on Sunday, Bioco cited the skyrocketing numbers for Bukidnon using the Average Daily Attack Rate (ADAR). He finished Bachelor of Science major in Mathematics at the Ateneo de Manila University with specialization in Statistics from the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

While Valencia City has been almost steady in August with its 14-day ADAR from 17.4 to 21.7, Malaybalay zoomed past from 10.3 to 38.6 ADAR with its most recent Week 7-day ADAR of 50.2, Bioco pointed out.

He cited that Valencia’s ADAR is already at “critical level”.

On the other hand, Bioco said Malaybalay, the provincial convergence of COVID-19 case handling, is exploding with COVID-19 cases. The city is home to the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center and the Northern Mindanao Wellness and Reintegration Center.

“Bukidnon’s 14-day ADAR, as a whole, is skyrocketing by 70% from 11.2 to 19.1 in August,” he added.

In epidemiology, the attack rate is the percentage of an at-risk population that contracts a disease during a specified time interval.

Lawyer Oliver Owen Garcia, PIATF co-chair, told MindaNews Sunday afternoon that the province’s COVID-19 situation is not yet critical.

“Our health care utilization rate is only “high risk” as of Thursday last week per PHO (Provincial Health Office). Our two-week growth rate is at medium risk while our ADAR is high risk,” he added.

Based on the COVID-19 Regional Risk Level posted at pia.gov.ph, as of August 24, Bukidnon’s ADAR is 17.25% and is classified as “high risk.” The two-week growth rate was also computed at 34.77%, which is classified as medium.

Bioco agreed that, indeed, Bukidnon has not reached critical risk province-wide.

“(But) it is already almost there at 19.1. In two to three days if we get more than 300 cases per day, then we will hit the critical risk level,”Bioco said.

He noted that the critical level of ADAR is 20 above for areas with low healthcare capacity like Bukidnon. He said ADAR 20 should be the threshold for “critical risk” to declare an MECQ province-wide.

Bukidnon can implement granular lockdown already if ADAR hits 20, he added.

As of August 24, the Department of Health – Region 10 (DOH-10) reported that five Bukidnon localities breached that ADAR category: Malaybalay City with 27.66, Quezon with 25.30, Manolo Fortich with 24.40, Maramag with 20.78 and Valencia City with 20.40.

The same five localities are in the Top 10 municipalities and cities with active COVID -19 cases in Northern Mindanao.

As of August 24, Malaybalay City’s 793 cases placed second to Cagayan de Oro’s 3,770 cases. Valencia City placed third with 666 cases; Quezon, Bukidnon placed fifth with 531 cases; Manolo Fortich at sixth with 393 cases; and, Maramag at seventh with 260 cases.

Bioco stressed that if ADAR hits 20 or above, an MECQ should be imposed and not merely MGCQ.

“Why wait (for the entire province to be at critical risk)? It is just a matter of time that Bukidnon will be getting consistently greater than 500 cases per day province-wide,” Bioco said.

Technically as per IATF protocol, Bioco admitted that “we are only at high risk” as the ADAR level province-wide is still less than 20.

He said that imposing MECQ is “appropriate” because there is no need to give ayuda (quarantine assistance), which has been the concern of the local government units during ECQ.

Bioco urged residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine to contain the spread of the disease.

“We need to remind everyone to follow minimum health protocol and stay at home unless for essential movement. Let us all take care,” he added.

With the Delta variant in the picture, Bioco projected that Bukidnon’s COVID-19 cases could peak at 2,500 cases per day before it will starts decreasing.

“That peak can be halved if we achieve 50% above vaccination,” he said. (MindaNews)

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