ILOILO City, Philippines – The Iloilo City government said on Monday, January 17, that the current spike of COVID-19 cases might continue until February.
Dr. Roland Jay Fortuna, the city’s COVID-19 focal person, said in a briefing that cases in the city rose, with 1,237 new cases logged in the last 14 days alone (January 3 to 16).
He traced the spike to residents who took vacations out of the city and Panay Island for the Christmas holiday. But local transmissions have increased since, he added.
“We’re expecting [cases] to steadily increase up to maybe February. Currently, our cases have only started to rise. The national positivity rate is seen not be increasing, but hopefully we also reach that at some point. Right now, we are just continuing to test many,” Fortuna said.
Data by the City Epidemiological Surveillance Unit (CESU) as of January 17 showed that the city recorded a total of 1,489 new COVID-19 cases since the start of 2022.
These include 929 identified local transmissions, 560 index cases, 126 returning residents, 25 Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROF), and 50 Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APOR).
Iloilo City hospitals have admitted 77 patients, with 44 from the city, 27 from Iloilo province, five from Antique, and one from Capiz.
Unlike previous COVID surges in the city and the region, there are less dedicated ward beds, Fortuna said.
“As we are seeing, our COVID ward beds have gone down compared to previous peaks, other beds are being converted to non-COVID wards. However, if COVID cases rise, beds will be converted exclusively for COVID bed wards,” he said.
Quarantine facilities manager Gabriel Umadhay said that the city currently has 10 quarantine and isolation, half of these private.
Two of these facilities cater specifically to ROFs and returning residents, as well as suspect COVID cases.
These facilities have a total of 500 beds, with 254 beds currently used by patients, largely with mild symptoms.
Due to an influx of patients at the Uswag quarantine facility in Brgy. Sooc in Arevalo district, as well as the St. Therese MTCC Hospital in the city proper, the city government will partner with schools to open quarantine facilities there.
These additional facilities are expected to accommodate 100 to 120 patients.
The La Paz Maternity Clinic, which serves as a facility for pregnant women with COVID, is currently catering only to 7 patients, but with a bed capacity of 16.
Iloilo City Health Office chief Dr. Annabelle Tang said that they are continuing to trace all close contacts and refer them to the La Paz Gym for swab specimen collection.
Samples will be tested via RT-PCR at the Uswag Molecular Laboratory in Molo.
Tang said they are also “aggressively” continuing preventive measures, including public education campaigns and vaccination drives.
CESU data showed that the city has had a total of 23,492 COVID cases with 1,280 active cases, 21,447 recoveries, and 600 deaths. – Rappler.com
Joseph B.A. Marzan is a Visayas-based journalist from Iloilo City and is a recipient of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.