City gov’t allays fears amid COVID jump

(A. Almacen/file)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The Iloilo City government on Monday assured that the public will still be able to enjoy the holiday season amid a recent rise in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), as indicated by data by the City Health Office (CHO).

Dr. Roland Jay Fortuna, the CHO’s COVID focal person, reported that as of October 16, the city has reported 461 new cases since Oct. 1, or with an average of 29 cases per day, higher than that in September (302), with an average of 11 cases per day.

The Average Daily Attack Rate (ADAR), which refers to the number of cases per 100,000 people in Iloilo City, has also risen to 5.87 as of October 16.

This is from a 1.72 ADAR recorded on October 1, and currently the second-highest this year according to Fortuna, next to the 11 ADAR score in the earlier months of the year.

This new wave is attributed to the high number of testing, particularly those required for face-to-face work and classes.

“Our testing in the COVID laboratory [in Molo district] hasn’t gone down, that’s why we get a lot of positive results,” said Fortuna in the city government’s press conference.

But he downplayed fears of consequent rises, citing the existing public health mandates including the wearing of face masks, physical distancing, and hand hygiene.

This was also amid President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s executive order which makes the wearing of masks in open spaces as optional.

City Regulation Ordinance No. 2020-061, as amended, which provides for the wearing of face masks in all public spaces, is still an active ordinance, and recent efforts to amend it to match the executive order have not yet progressed in the city council.

“We have to understand that these are helpful. We have to understand that we have to observe and follow public health protocols. If many people wear masks, then we wouldn’t have this much COVID,” he said.

Despite the current lack of operating handwashing stations in public places, he cited the prevalence of personal possession of rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers, highlighting the public’s “social responsibility” to keep their hands clean and prevent the spread of COVID.

He also said that the city government continues to make COVID vaccination and booster shots available via the district health centers.

So far, CHO data has indicated that the city has had 35,207 COVID cases as of Oct. 16, including 33,783 local cases, with 34,272 recoveries, 235 active cases, and 697 deaths.