Mayor Evelio Leonardia yesterday submitted an urgent appeal to the National Inter-Agency Task Force (NIATF) to suspend the further repatriation of Bacolodnon overseas Filipino workers (OFWS) and locally stranded individuals (LSIs) to the city until further advice from the local government.
Leonardia cited the growing number of locally transmitted COVID infections, which in a span of just one week, or from August 16 to August 23, rose from 513 to 900 cases or an increase of 75 percent.
“We have also been informed that on Sunday, all the seven hospitals in Bacolod have already refused to receive any more COVID patients citing that they are already full. This is quite alarming,” Leonardia said.
The situation in the hospitals has also worsened because their medical staff is starting to deplete. Many of them have been quarantined for having tested positive for the virus and have not returned to work yet, while a number have also resigned or gone AWOL, he said.
While some hospitals may still have some COVID beds that are available, there are no doctors and nurses to take care of them, thus, additional patients are refused admission, Leonardia said.
During the weekend 400 Bacolodnon OFWs arrived by sea and by air, with more to arrive in the next days and weeks, he said. Historically, actual experience shows that about 8-10 percent of them will eventually test positive he said.
That means we are looking at 40 more possible COVID patients, some of whom may need hospital confinement, Leonardia said,
“We cannot break the back of our hospitals with more COVID patients,” he said.
Leonardia also cited that with the massive testing for 5,000 Bacolod residents this coming weekend, it is expected that a minimum 500 of them may also test positive.
Mild cases will have to be accommodated in our isolation facilities in public schools but the moderate to serious ones would need hospital care, he said.
Considering the confluence of all these circumstances, we cannot presently receive more OFWs and LSIs into Bacolod City until the local infection situation is under better control, Leonardia said.
Hopefully, we can be open to them again, after a month, he added.*