Cagayan De Oro City

Cagayan de Oro sees vaccination working, fewer people in hospitals

Herbie Gomez
Cagayan de Oro sees vaccination working, fewer people in hospitals

WAITING TO BE PROTECTED. People wait to be receive their jabs in a Cagayan de Oro COVID-19 vaccination center in the city.

Herbie Gomez/Rappler

'We have less severe and critical COVID-19 patients. We are seeing that the vaccines work,' says Dr. Gina Itchon, Northern Mindanao Medical Center chief for research

Cagayan de Oro has seen significant gains in its vaccination rollout in recent weeks, removing itself from the list of Mindanao cities with the highest number of COVID-19 cases.

Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) officials on Tuesday, October 26, attributed the plunge in the number of people getting hospitalized in the city to the local vaccination rollout strategy.

The region itself has dramatically lowered the number of COVID-19 cases and infected people needing hospitalization.

Northern Mindanao was on the Department of Health’s list of high-risk to critical regions in Mindanao because the number of COVID-19 cases overwhelmed hospitals in the second and third quarters. Cagayan de Oro accounted for most of the patients admitted to hospitals in the region during the period.

But as of October 24, the region’s hospital bed utilization rate was down to a safe level, at only 24.4%, showed DOH data.

DOH considers an area high-risk when its hospital facilities are 70% occupied and critical if the occupancy rate reaches 85%.

DOH data showed Northern Mindanao’s intensive care utilization rate at 31%, isolation facilities at 22.5%, ward use at 25.7%, and ventilator use at 26% – all seen as safe levels.

Mayor Oscar Moreno said Cagayan de Oro’s critical hospital care utilization rate was below 30% and considered low-risk.

He said the city’s intensive care units were 27.59% utilized and isolation beds were 26.86% occupied while only 25% of mechanical ventilators were being used.

“The strategy is working. We are now seeing a low admission of patients with severe to critical cases,” said Dr. Bernard Julius Rocha, NMMC liaison officer.

Rocha said the number of patients dropped as more people, identified as more vulnerable because of their ages and comorbidities, received their jabs.

“Those admitted currently in the hospitals are mostly unvaccinated patients,” he told Rappler.

Dr. Gina Itchon, NMMC chief for research, said: “We have less severe and critical COVID-19 patients. We are seeing that the vaccines work.”

She told an online COVID-19 situation briefer earlier that the NMMC saw its worst case-doubling time so far in August, at 914 cases in less than a week. By the last week of September, it nosedived to 76 – the lowest since July – and it has further dropped since then.

Itchon said many of those testing positive for COVID-19 experience mild symptoms because they have already been inoculated, and only need to be isolated and not hospitalized.

“Even if we have not yet attained herd immunity, the vaccines are already making a huge difference in COVID-19 disease patterns,” Itchon told Rappler.

City hall said the government has inoculated 505,017 people in the city as of October 24.

But of the number, 295,108 have yet to receive their second doses, showed city hall data.

Moreno said he hoped to further ramp up the vaccination rollout as front-line health workers started administering doses to residents as young as 18.

“We are hoping we can have a merry Christmas,” said Dr. Teodoro Yu Jr., a medical officer at the City Health Office.

DOH data showed that Cagayan de Oro counted six newly documented COVD-19 infections as of Monday, October 25, a far cry from the single-day, triple-digit number of infections it registered in recent months.

Regionwide, the DOH registered 45 newly recorded COVID-19 cases on the same day, also way below the number of single-day cases that breached 1,000 on several occasions during the second and third quarters.

The DOH recorded 18 newly documented infections in Lanao del Norte, eight in Misamis Oriental, six in Misamis Occidental, three in Bukidnon, four in Iligan City, six in Cagayan de Oro, and none in Camiguin. –