Duterte, DOH should support NCR-LGU hospitals vs Delta variant | Inquirer Opinion
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Duterte, DOH should support NCR-LGU hospitals vs Delta variant

04:00 AM August 17, 2021

The rising dominance of the dreaded COVID-Delta variant today in Metro Manila and nationwide poses very serious dangers to all of us and our families. Most specifically at risk are the unvaccinated and immunocompromised seniors and also unvaccinated youth particularly those who are either obese, diabetic, with respiratory problems and other diseases.

Health experts say this Delta variant is deadlier, highly contagious, and airborne like bulutong (chicken pox), with a reproductive number 5-9. This means it is more transmissible than the common cold, flu, smallpox, SARS, MERS or Ebola. It takes 18 days on the average to heal, longer by 5 days compared to the original COVID-19 Alpha and Beta strains which took only 13 days to heal, again requiring longer quarantine periods.

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It increased after May, when the National Capital Region was Zero Delta. But in June, 72 cases were confirmed and in July increased 1,000 percent to 721 cases. Today, the Delta variant is driving NCR’s rising weekly averages from only 906 on July 19-25, to the latest 3,260 cases on August 9-15, or a big jump of 359 percent in two weeks. It is projected to increase further in NCR even with the imposition of ECQ, because peoples’ mobility has remained at 39 percent (compared to zero mobility in the stricter ECQ in April last year). This means more people are still moving around NCR infecting each other.

In Metro Manila, the latest total is 10,550,038 vaccinated residents, or 78 percent of its total 13,484,462 population (2020 census). A total of 6,457,065 had their first dose while 4,092,973, or 30.3 percent of total NCR population, are “fully vaccinated”.

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But the big danger is the fact that fully vaccinated people can still get infected by the Delta variant with higher viral loads. Their first dose or full vaccinations, data shows, did not prevent their becoming transmitters of the new variant, no different from the “unvaccinated’.

And experts say the fully vaccinated must practice now more than ever minimum health protocols—washing of hands, wearing of face mask and face shield, and physical distancing even inside their homes or in indoor areas because this strain is airborne and can infect in a fleeting 5 seconds (unlike 15 minutes in the original variants).
These findings are game changing and no amount of complacency or laxity should be allowed by every person, vaccinated or unvaccinated. COVID-19 has mutated and are becoming ahead of vaccines’ protection. Sooner or later, but hopefully not, one will get infected and overwhelming emergency rooms and hospitals will strike every family. That is if we are still hard-headed about this pandemic.

Today, Delta-infected families have no choice but to rely on their LGUs for quarantine facilities and more importantly hospitalization. Of all the cities in NCR, Manila has the best COVID response facilities with six district hospitals, namely Ospital ng Maynila, Ospital ng Sampaloc, Gat Andres Bonifacio Medical Center in Tondo, Ospital ng Tondo, Sta. Ana Hospital and Justice Abad Santos General Hospital. Another 315-bed new field hospital (like Wuhan’s) was built by the city government near the Quirino Grandstand. COVID hospitalization and treatment for Manila residents are free.

Second best is Quezon City with three public facilities, namely the Quezon City General Hospital, Rosario Maclang Hospital and Novaliches District Hospital. As far as I know, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasay, Pasig, Las Piñas, Parañaque, Caloocan, and Valenzuela has one each, where their residents can turn to in case of treatment.

These LGU-owned and operated hospitals are the saviors of poor families infected by COVID-19 in Metro Manila. From the barangays, these LGU hospitals are at the forefront of our fight against the pandemic. President Duterte should instruct the DOH, IATF and Philhealth to provide the necessary medical funds for these LGU hospitals in anticipation of the rising Delta variant.

Priority should be the poor and sick people in the LGUs before national health intramurals and politics.

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