COVID-19 threatened to cripple the province of Misamis Oriental as dozens of its government workforce catch the deadly virus.
53 provincial government officials and employees are currently active cases and have been rushed to quarantine facilities. On Friday, May 14, alone, 18 tested positive for COVID-19, provincial health officer Dr. Jerie Calingasan said on Monday morning, May 17.
Many of those infected are residents of Cagayan de Oro City.
Cagayan de Oro City Hall was not spared. As of Saturday, May 15, 26 of its employees from various offices were confined in COVID-19 quarantine facilities around the city.
The 26 are among the 150 city government employees who have caught the virus since 2020, 124 of whom have already recuperated, said Dr. Teodulfo Joselito Retuya, city epidemiologist.
The city has seen a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, forcing Mayor Oscar Moreno to order a citywide curfew from 9 pm to 5 am; impose a liquor ban during these hours; and limit wakes to three days and funeral crowds to only 20 people.
Even Cagayan de Oro 1st District Representative Rolando Uy and his wife Rosemarie were hospitalized due to COVID-19, and the local Catholic archdiocese had to temporarily close six churches after priests also caught the virus.
Shutdowns and setbacks
Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano said the Provincial Treasurer’s Office also had to be temporarily shut down after its personnel became primary contacts of a female worker who was infected. On Friday, May 15, several of its staff, including a key capitol treasury official, tested positive for the virus.
“This is going to be a problem, but we are looking for a way for workers’ salaries and benefits to be released on time,” Emano said.
He said he was considering a skeleton workforce scheme in the provincial capitol, but he first wanted assurance that employees could work from home and refrain from outdoor activities.
In the meantime, Maricel Rivera, Cagayan do Oro City Hall spokesperson, said that while infections were a setback, city hall officials were determined to increase their inoculation capacity, and implement measures to stop the further spread of COVID-19.
“Health protocols are in place. Our contact tracing is in motion. If people get infected in any of our offices, we immediately trace their contacts, and isolate them for 14 days or until they recover and test negative,” Rivera said.
She said city hall would not resort to a skeleton workforce because this would slow down services, and “we already lack people in the vaccination sites, and for our COVID response.”
Rivera also said such a scheme was proven to be ineffective, because stubborn employees took it as an opportunity to go out, like they were on holiday. – Rappler.com