95% of coronavirus cases in Eastern Visayas recover

Ryan Macasero
New case counts in the region drop to a single digit. From over 60 cases, Ormoc City has only 3 active cases and no community transmission.

Of the 675 total coronavirus cases in the Eastern Visayas region, 642 have already recovered, according to the Department of Health Eastern Visayas (DOH-8).

According to a statement released by DOH-8 on Monday, July 20, this brings the recovery rate up to 95%.

Out of 36 samples tested and results released on Monday, only 3 came back positive.

This brings the total number of active cases to 33.

Why this matters?

The Eastern Visayas region was previously named a hot spot by the Department of Health for the fast rising number of cases in the region, triggered by the national government’s repatriation of residents stranded in the cities, and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

The first batch came through Balik Probinsya, a program of Senator Bong Go to resettle returning residences in the provinces; while the others who tested positive were OFW returnees or stranded persons.

Testing in the cities and quarantine were supposed to be part of the procedure for returning residents, but dozens were testing positive upon return to their hometowns.

Eastern Visayas is one of the least-equipped to handle a widespread pandemic.

According to data from the Department of Health, there are only a total of 16 ICU beds, 60 ward beds, and 27 ventilators for the 4.4 million people in the region.

This only accounts for the inventory in public hospitals, meaning that should there be more than 27 critical COVID-19 cases at once, there will be no more ventilators left for the others.

This is why it was crucial for local executives to act quickly to prevent community transmission.

How did they bring down their numbers?

The cities and towns quickly set up their own isolation centers to host the arriving OFWs.

Last May 9, the DOH accredited Tacloban City’s testing lab to increase testing capacity and speed up results in the region.

Late June, Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año also suspended the repatriation of OFWs and locally stranded individuals to allow towns to decongest their isolation facilities.

Ormoc City got its first case late May and numbers quickly shot up to over 60 cases in June.

However, the city is down to only 3 active cases as of Tuesday, June 21.

There were at least two days in July where the city had zero cases.

“It only means that this COVID can be managed with the right programme and the right people but we cannot be complacent because we have to brace ourselves soon when the national government opens its doors when it brings home people from Manila,” Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez told Rappler in a text message.

Gomez said the key to managing returning residents is making sure that the local government unit has enough quarantine facilities to accommodate returning residents.

In Ormoc, the isolated individuals are provided sleeping quarters and meals while they await their test results.

On Monday, July 20, the Philippines recorded 68,898 cases of COVID-19 infections, including 1,835 deaths and 23,072 recoveries. –

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.