DUMAGUETE CITY – The number of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in Negros Oriental is now slowly declining following the surge that started a few months back.
The improvement is being attributed largely to the imposition of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in the province last month.
However, Assistant Provincial Health Officer Dr. Liland Estacion, Covid-19 incident commander of the province’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said in a virtual presser Tuesday that much has yet to be done to further bring down the number of infections before the province can revert to a less restrictive quarantine classification.
“There appears to be a drop in the number of cases but this is not enough to warrant the lifting of the MECQ because it is the national IATF that will determine and act on this, depending on the recommendation from the regional IATF to which we submit our regular reports,” she said in mixed English and Cebuano dialect.
While unable to provide data based on a regular, daily basis, she noted that the current number of active positive cases has already dropped to over 1,000, compared to the past several weeks where it was pegged at more than 2,000.
“The hospital bed capacity for Covid-19 cases also shows a drop in admissions, compared to the past weeks,” Estacion added.
Furthermore, she cited the Dumaguete City government’s decision to prohibit dining-in in restaurants, bars, and similar food establishments as this has contributed to the slowdown in infections.
With the MECQ in place, other establishments were also temporarily ordered closed, such as salons, fitness centers, and indoor sports venues, among others.
Negros Oriental was first placed under MECQ from June 16-30 after enjoying several months of the least restrictive modified general community quarantine, when cases suddenly surged and continued to climb earlier this year.
The MECQ was extended to July 1-15 but Estacion is hopeful that there will be an easing of restrictions later this month.
She reported that as of July 6, the province has a total caseload of 9,319, broken down into 7,615 recoveries, 1,552 active cases, and 152 mortalities.
This provincial capital leads with the highest number of cases, currently with 236 active infections, followed by Sibulan with 176; Tanjay City with 161; Bacong, 149; Mabinay, 114; Siaton, 111; and the rest with less than 100.
Meanwhile, workers from the business process outsourcing (BPO) and information and communications technology (ICT) sector are now included in the A4 priority sector of the government for Covid-19 vaccination, Estacion said, noting that she still has to review the guidelines.
On Monday, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Association of Dumaguete and Negros Oriental called out to local authorities for clarification on whether workers in this sector are included in the A4 priority group.
Joslyn Andreai Hartzell, director for Community Relations of Qualfon Philippines, in an interview, said some BPO workers were allegedly turned away at a vaccination site because they were told they did not belong to the A4 sector.
Their group had initially met with Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, asking him to consider the BPO industry as a priority sector.
There are around 12,000 BPO/ICT workers in Negros Oriental.
This provincial capital has started vaccinating qualified A4 recipients although Estacion said some other local government units are still continuing their inoculation of the A1 (medical/health care workers), A2 (senior citizens), and A3 (persons with comorbidities) groups. (PNA)