Concerned over the three-digit figure rise of COVID-19 infections for three consecutive days, Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia called on 20 barangay captains for an urgent online meeting late last week to discuss the sudden surge despite the local government’s stepped-up vaccination drive.
Attending the Zoom meeting aimed to harmonize their responses in view of the recent spike in infections, were village heads whose barangays posted the highest number of COVID-19 cases recently.
“We want to get you involved. We want to listen to you because you are the people who know what’s happening at ground zero. Your ideas will be incorporated in our policies and practices,” Leonardia, who chairs the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), told the barangay executives.
Also present in the virtual meeting were local IATF chair and Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, EOC Executive Director and City Administrator Em Ang, EOC Deputies for Medical Dr. Chris Sorongon and Dr. Anna Maria Laarni Pornan, OIC-City Health Officer Dr. Edwin Miraflor Jr., and EOC Contact Tracing head Dr. Rosalie Deocampo.
The mayor noted that it was the first time after almost two months that he has talked about COVID-19 with the barangay officials.
In the past two months, Bacolod has witnessed the slowing down of COVID-19 cases compared to other cities in the country.
“At least we were able to contain, to a certain extent, the COVID-19 surge. But times are changing… repeatedly, I keep reminding the people of Bacolod that we cannot predict this COVID-19. There are times when we have very low cases. There are also times when we have high cases. I have always described this as a ‘rollercoaster’ ride. Saka-panaog,” Leonardia said.
In the past weeks, the number of cases in Bacolod were consistently below the three-digit mark. But from September 9 to 11, Bacolod has posted more than 100 cases each day, as shown in the Department of Health- Region 6’s COVID-19 Bulletin.
On September 9, Bacolod recorded 129 new cases; Sept.10 – 108 cases; and Sept.11 – 148 cases.
“This is alarming for us, considering that it’s been quite long that we only had double-digit cases. Now we are back to having three-digit figures,” the mayor said.
Leonardia also said that the presence of the Delta variant in Bacolod is another reason to be alarmed, especially since this variant is “more contagious and even more deadly.”
As of Sept. 9, EOC data showed that 35 deaths due to COVID-19 have been recorded in Bacolod.
As of the same date, the total number of vaccine doses administered in the city was already at 253,676. Of these, 143,011 were of first doses, while 110,655 were of second doses.
Familiaran said the city has to double its efforts on its information and education campaign (IEC).
“IEC is inexpensive, so if possible, maybe we should focus on this in the barangays. We don’t want that what happened in Iloilo will also happen to us here,” Familiaran said.
For her part, Ang said that the meeting with barangay captains was necessary “because our procedures and policies must be coordinated accordingly so that we will be able to implement our COVID-19 strategies.”
Also discussed in the meeting were action points for barangays recommended by the Health Department, which include granular lockdowns, active case finding and active contact tracing, and rapid antigen testing for areas with Delta variant, among others.*