By John Noel E. Herrera
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. said that there is no need to make adjustments to COVID-19 protocols despite the spike in cases and the first reported XBB.1.16 subvariant case in the province.
In a press conference on Friday, April 28, 2023, Defensor noted that the province is consistently monitoring its COVID-19 indicators, citing that Iloilo is still under Alert Level 1 status.
“Sa COVID-19, we go back to the basics, kung naga siling kita nga nagasaka kita, when we make adjustments, balikan naton ang basics. Parehas sang una, we go back to the gatekeeping indicator,” Defensor said.
“So, sa subong, there’s no need to make adjustments. Checking all gatekeeping indicators, indi ni bulubanta lang, we have gone back to the basics kag ara man kita gihapon sa Alert Level 1,” he added.
The governor said that despite the increase in COVID-19 cases, the province’s healthcare utilization rate (HCUR) and Average Daily Attack Rate (ADAR) remain low.
“Low (HCUR) sa aton district hospitals, sa Iloilo Provincial Hospital, kag ginabantayan man naton ang utilization sang tertiary hospital sang Iloilo City. In other words, we monitor the severity of the disease and sa subong, again, no need to make adjustments,” Defensor said.
Data from the Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO) as of April 23, 2023 indicated that the province’s ADAR is only at 0.17 percent while its HCUR is at 37.52 percent.
On the XBB.1.16 variant that was first reported in Iloilo, Defensor said that its current available characterization only shows mild symptoms in an infected individual, which the public already experienced with other COVID-19 variants.
He also said that the public already knew what to do in these situations, noting that they could not just simply make adjustments that would affect the economic recovery of the province.
“Again, we cannot make adjustments nga would merit something that would add additional burden to what we are doing nga for economic activity and other things,” Defensor stressed.
What is important, according to Defensor, is for the public to be vaccinated and get their booster shots as it is the best protection against the virus and its possible complications.
“Ang aton vaccination sige-sige and our vaccination happens as a matter of natural course together with the other vaccination programs of the province,” he added.
IPHO data showed that out of 1,292,571 or 88.43 percent of the population who finished their primary series of vaccination, only 290,054 individuals, or 19.84 percent have received their first booster shot and 25,216 or 1.73 percent have been inoculated with the second booster dose.
MANDATORY WEARING OF FACEMASKS?
Defensor reiterated that the rule in wearing of face masks, along with other health and safety protocols in the province is still based on Executive Order No. 260 s. 2022, which is anchored to COVID-19 Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) guidelines.
“Amu man sagihapon ang ginasunod naton because we have the protocols under Alert Level System 1. We will go back to that protocols,” he said.
EO No. 260 states that under Alert Level 1, wearing of facemasks in open spaces or non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation shall be optional, “provided that, not fully-vaccinated individuals, senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals are highly encouraged to wear their face masks at all times in indoor and outdoor venues.”
While in other open spaces or outdoor areas where mass gatherings and social distancing cannot be maintained, the wearing of face masks shall be mandatory.
“We go back to these protocols, galing sang ulihi nga makasiling na kita, although not officially, nga daw nag endemic na siya, naghalog man aton (protocols), but it is a natural behaviour sa mga amu ni nga sakit, especially when the strain is not like before,” Defensor explained.
Meanwhile, data from the Department of Health (DOH)-6 showed that Iloilo province has 838 active cases this year, with six new cases recorded on Thursday, April 27.