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3Ts – Test, Trace, Treat (who?)

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As we reach the last day of the 4-day Weekend Timeout, thousands submitted to voluntary swabbing and though the 10,000 target may not be realized, it seems promising with Bacolod reporting 4,384 got tested. This indicates that we may reach a good output of 70 percent in the whole province.

Huge shout out to the Swab Teams who worked non-stop for four days to cover the five LGUs under the OPlan: One Time, Big Time program.

Only 51 of them which means they were averaging 50 patients each to cover the target number.

Two days, Bacolodnons cooperated with the zero-movement appeal, prompting Mayor Bing Leonardia to lift his EO early thus, the 4 days became 2.

Sure enough, while some welcomed that, others slammed the wishy-washy decision and memes of “we got pranked” abounded in social media. The initial directive was just two days for Bacolod and two days for the provincial LGUs.

Last minute, it was changed to a 4-day zero-movement that led to panic buying. And then, even before the second day ended, Mayor Bing surprised us to say, it’s over, but with a catch – from September 3-15, they will reinstate the use of quarantine passes.

Lifting the EO short of two days doesn’t make sense to me. The last two days fall on a Sunday and since churches have suspended services and public markets remain close what essential thing is there to do?

Today is a holiday too and since most people stocked up on their essentials for four days, I don’t see any harm to complete the period. Plus, this ensures that those who got tested will not go elsewhere while awaiting their promised results in 24-hours.

Thus, it sounds shallow to hear the rationale that the HQP will help “lessen the volume of people going around” ergo “less transmission” when you lift the lockdown two days early, thereby allowing people to roam freely anyway.

It is frustrating to guess what goes on in the mind of Mayor Bing and what drives him to make these changes in decisions and I am pretty sure I am not the only one baffled by his decision-making process.

OPlanconvenor, former Rep. Albee Benitez came out with a very pointed statement though it was vague as to whom it was directed. Some say it was because the mass testing became too politicized when some officials allegedly said that they were simply dragged into the conversation of the weekend timeout.

Albee stressed that the program was for “everyone’s benefit and not for anyone’s personal gain.” We have been clamoring for mass testing and to give credit where it’s due, Albee allowed this to happen. Now that it’s here, we criticize? Why? Because it inconvenienced us for four days?

Albee has this to say to his critics. “Instead of maligning us, help us. I am not competing with anyone nor have any personal agenda out of this. COVID-19 is our common enemy. If our direction serves, in your mind, a greater good, then join us. If not, then speak out and offer actual solutions.”

Of course it cannot be denied that some quarters say Albee’s actions threatens the political career of some officials. Geez, elections is so far away and though you may not like him, you have to admit he has done more than most during this crisis, including donating one of the first RT-PCR machines we have in the province. So, if there are fans already shouting his name as the next governor or mayor, why blame him?

But the meat of the matter now is how will we proceed? Do we wait for DOH to officially announce the results? If we do, we may never be able to trace accurately knowing their backlogs in releasing results.

Given the 10,000 target, how many contact tracers do we have? If the positive rate averages at 5 percent, we are looking at 500 positives. Quarantining them is not a problem as the facilities are said to be in place. But multiply that 500 with just 5 contacts and that’s another 2,500 that will need follow-up swabbing.

Last is treatment. Since most of our cases are asymptomatic, it is easy to isolate them based on the gravity of their status and quarantine facilities must be labelled as such from mild, to moderate and those who need hospitalization. From the mild to the most severe, do we have enough medicines to treat them?

Among the most coveted medication for severe cases is Remdisivir, the antiviral drug that costs P10,000 per vial. Admission cases may warrant 10 vials or P100,000 per patient. For those who have less in life, how will they acquire that? According to Mayor Bing, 400 Remdisivir, facilitated by Senator Bong Go is coming. That will serve 40 patients. I hope we won’t have more than that number.

Our battle is far from over. We have not yet made much progress and the national government just listed our gateway as among those to open for commercial flights.

It’s a never-ending cycle of defensive playing. God help us!*


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September 2023

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