City hall acted belatedly
By Leonardo Micua
AS of 7 p.m. on April 2, the city of Dagupan appears to be leading in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pangasinan with four, (confirmed by the colored map of the Provincial Health Office (PHO) that showed the locations of the patients found positive for COVID-19).
Fortunately, the four COVID-19 cases are still in stable condition (See our Dagupan registers first 4 COVID-19 cases story). Still, as of April 2, Dagupan was leading in the number of Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) with two who died in confinement, while four were confined, second only to Malasiqui’s five confined PUIs.
No wonder, City Administrator Vladimir Mata was alarmed and is started asking hospitals in Dagupan to first seek permission from the Dagupan City government before they accept suspected PUIs (as if the PUIs who died are still being treated and the confirmed COVID-19 cases were the factor for the dramatic rise of spread of the virus in Dagupan).
I doubt if the city government can regulate or bar hospitals from bringing in patients suspected to have COVID-19 because they were mandated by the DOH to accommodate and extend medical care to all PUIs and PUMs. Also, the Region 1 Medical Center and private hospital classified as Level II and III facilities were identified by DOH as end-referral hospitals for all persons showing symptoms similar to COVID-19. Can the city government change that?
Neither can the Sangguniang Panlungsod pass an ordinance regulating the entry of COVID-19 patients into Dagupan because this is where the bigger hospitals– government and private– are located.
Asking the hospitals to first seek permission from the city government before accepting COVID-19 patients to be treated is infringing on their functions and contravenes the Enhanced Community Quarantine protocol.
Methinks that if there is a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 patients, today it’s because the city government acted belatedly. It could have isolated and quarantined those who arrived from abroad and Manila when they first stepped into the city.
Note that if Mr. Brian Lim, along with his constant partner Mr. Red Erfe-Mejia, arrived from the US reportedly on March 13, and if the two really cared for the health and welfare of Dagupeños, they should have set the example by going into self-quarantine. But no, we read Councilor Jose Netu Tamayo’s post in social on Facebook that an executive-legislative meeting was held on March 24 in the morning at the conference room of the city hall, still within the 14-day quarantine period of the mayor.
And before this, it was possible he exposed himself to other people of the city throwing the quarantine protocol to the wind.
That is why, city officials should blame no one but themselves for the rise of COVID-19 cases in Dagupan because the mayor himself violated his quarantine.
Also, the declared Extreme Enhanced Community Quarantine in the city, particularly in Barangay Pogo Chico, was done a full week after President Duterte declared it for Luzon. Had he done it at the time, he could have ordered the quarantine of hundreds who arrived from abroad and Manila, there would have been no spike of COVID-19 cases in his city.
Ironically, I heard that the PUMs (persons under monitoring) are being quarantined at the former Arizona Inn in Barangay Bonuan Boquig without consulting the barangay council or residents who fear it could put their health at risk.
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Compared to Governor Amado Espino III who has done and is doing a lot, many think Brian’s performance in fighting COVID-19 is sorely wanting. Take for instance the distribution of relief goods in the city. Many went to Facebook to complain that they were left out because they supported Belen in the last election. True?
Well, the promised relief pack from the city came at last on Wednesday. Mercifully, we received ours. “Dad, halos parehas lang and idineliber ng siyudad sa atin at sa barangay,” my son said. Kapitan Noel delivered the barangay’s aid four days earlier.
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As of this writing, it is not yet certain whether the lockdown in Luzon will be lifted on April 14 since there has been no assessment whether the lockdown served it purpose in drastically reducing COVID-19 cases. The World Health Organization is reportedly against the lifting of the lockdown until the Philippines succeeds in flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases.
This means harder sacrifice on our part but choosing between lockdown and easing or a completely stopping the contagion, we choose the latter.
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