The delayed release of COVID-19 test results is among the factors that "aggravated" the pandemic response of the Quirino provincial government, Governor Dakila Cua said on Tuesday, March 30.
“There were laboratories servicing our testing needs that took 10 days or more to give us the results. That was the aggravating [factor] in our response,” Cua said in a mix of English and Filipino in an interview with Rappler.
The day before on Monday, March 29, President Rodrigo Duterte placed Quirino under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), the second strictest form of lockdown, from April 1 to 15 to quell the surge in COVID-19 cases there.
As of Monday, the province is dealing with around 440 active cases, Cua said.
“Dahil matagal ang result, nag-li-linger iyong tao sa quarantine stage. Kung malaman mo agad [na confirmed], mas madaling i-contain, dahil ita-transfer na ‘yan from quarantine to isolation,” Cua said.
(Because the results take time, people linger at the quarantine stage. If you get the results right away, it's easier to contain becayse you will transfer them from quarantine to isolation.)
Cua said that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases should address the delay as a policy.
“Tingnan nila 'yung response time ng labs. Critical ‘yan sa management ng mga quarantine and patients at mga suspects (The IATF should look at the response time of laboratories. That’s critical in the management of suspected cases),” the governor said.
He also cited the public's complacency as another factor for the surge in y COVID-19 cases in Quirino.
“For the longest time, we were very low-risk kaya naging kampante, hindi sumusunod sa pagsuot ng mask at social distancing (so the people became complacent, and didn't follow the wearing mask and physical distancing),” Cua said.
Based on data from the Department of Health, new COVID-19 cases in Quirino rose from 37 in February to 343 as of March 28.
The surge in cases overwhelmed hospitals in the province, which are now at full capacity for COVID-19 patients, said Cua.
He called on the national government to send more health workers to their province, citing COVID-19 infections among medical personnel.
“We need medical workers support from DOH. They have given some assistance but if they can give more, we will appreciate it very much,” Cua said.
Vaccinating health workers
Cua hoped that the government will speed up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses to provinces so the Quirino provincial government can inoculate more health care workers.
He said “a few hundred to a thousand more” health care workers have yet to receive immunization against the coronavirus.
Amid proposals for the national government to focus the vaccination efforts in Metro Manila, Cua said the inoculation drive should be risk-based.
“(Sana) masunod 'yung data at risk levels para doon mag-base ng decision kung saan i-co-concentrate ang inoculation efforts (I hope the data and risk levels would be followed so that this would be the basis of where to concentrate the inoculation efforts,” Cua said.
He added that Quirino, Tuguegarao City in Cagayan, and Santiago City in Isabela are considered "very high-risk," and should be prioritized for vaccination too. – Rappler.com