The Department of Health (DOH) included Zamboanga Peninsula in its list of COVID-19-affected regions with critical care utilization rates, and the only Mindanao region in the high-risk category.
Zamboanga Peninsula is also the only Mindanao region in the DOH watchlist of critical areas because of its relatively high intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy rate of 87% as of Sunday, October 10.
Four other Mindanao regions – Caraga, Davao, Soccksargen, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao – were categorized as high-risk areas in terms of the occupancy of ICU beds.
Overall, Zamboanga Peninsula ranked 4th, at 71.6%, in the health department’s list that is topped by the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), followed by Cagayan Valley and Mimaropa.
CAR registered the highest ICU occupancy rate at 85.%. Its COVID-19 wards were 88.2% occupied, also critical, and the highest among the regions.
Mindanao’s Caraga and Davao regions ranked 6th and 10th, respectively.
Although Caraga’s occupancy of hospital beds was moderate at 66.5%, its ICU occupancy rate was categorized as high risk at 77.6%.
Davao Region’s ICU occupancy was also categorized as high risk at 72.4%, but its overall occupancy rate was considered safe at 54.4%.
In Zamboanga City, site of the Zamboanga Peninsula’s top COVID-19 referral hospital, public health front line workers have called for stricter quarantine measures as the city logged a three-digit number of infections daily in the past few days.
Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco earlier called for more vaccines and more medical supplies, including tanks of medical grade oxygen because of a shortage.
Enrico Arevalo Estoque, a frontliner at the state-run Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC), said doctors, nurses, and other health workers were becoming desperate because they “feel there is no end to the situation.”
Estoque said the number of people who contracted COVID-19 and who need to be hospitalized was overwhelming.
Dr. Afdal Kunting, ZCMC chief of hospital, said the city was in a difficult situation because the region’s top COVID-19 referral hospital has run out of space for COVID-19 cases.
But Zamboanga City health officer Dulce Miravite said the local government was working to ease the congestion “little by little” by setting up more facilities for patients with moderate COVID-19 symptoms.
Miravite said a “mega” isolation facility at the Zamboanga economic zone would allow the hospitals to focus on critical cases.
Zamboanga City registered 190 newly-documented COVID-19 infections and 2,518 active cases on Sunday, one of the highest in the Zamboanga Peninsula region. – Rappler.com
Antonio Manaytay is a Mindanao-based journalist and is an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.