Medical groups urge gov't to place NCR under ECQ anew

Different medical groups in the country called on the government on Saturday to revert the National Capital Region (NCR) to enhanced community quarantine, the strictest form of community quarantine, saying that healthcare workers are already "exhausted" amid the increasing number of COVID-19 patients being admitted in hospitals.

“(Ang) gusto natin iparating sa lahat ay ang healthcare natin ngayon lalong-lalo na kaming mga frontliners ay talagang napapagod na (What we want to convey to everyone is that our healthcare (system) now, especially we frontliners, are really exhausted). We are being overwhelmed...We are just asking for a time out,” said Philippine College of Physicians Vice President Encarnita Limpin in a media briefing.

“Two weeks ang hinihingi lang ho namin para makahinga at makapag-isip po tayo para paano ba talaga natin makokontrol ang spread ng infection na ito (We are only asking for two weeks so that we can breathe and think solutions on how we can control the spread of this infection),” added Limpin.

Healthcare workers are not just exhausted physically but mentally as well, said Dr. Aileen Espina, a member of the Philippine Society of Public Health Physicians (PSPHP).

“Kami pong mga medical professionals ay nagsa-suffer na rin po (We, the medical professionals also suffer) so much from the mental burden of this pandemic. We have been in this fight since March...and we feel that we are nearing the end of our line. Kami po ay umaapela na tulungan din po kami (We are appealing that you help us as well),” she said.

Aside from being worn out, Limpin said that many healthcare workers are also being infected with COVID-19.

“Dapat po natin maintindihan na marami po sa mga healthcare workers ay naaapektuhan na rin, na-iinfect ng COVID-19 and a number of them nalalagay po sila sa ICU at nalalagay po sila sa respirator. Itong mga nakaraang linggo, nakakakita po kami ng mga namamatay na naman (We must understand that many healthcare workers are also infected by COVID-19 and a number of them are placed in the ICU and respirator. In recent weeks, we have been seeing more deaths),” she said.

Based on the latest data of the Department of Health (DoH), a total of 4,823 healthcare workers tested positive for COVID-19. Of these, 4,490 have recovered, 38 have died and 293 are active cases.

Limpin said that revering the NCR to ECQ will give the government and other stakeholders a time to rethink the different policies and to come up with a more “comprehensive strategy” to curb the rising number of infections.

“Gusto kong idiin na ang nakikita natin na pagdami ng nagkakasakit sa COVID-19 ay nangangahulugan na hindi effective ang mga preventive measures natin. Huwag po tayong magbulag-bulagan sa katotohanan (I would like to emphasize that the increase in the number of COVID-19 patients means that our preventive measures are not that effective. Let us not be blind to the truth),” she said.

“Hindi po kami nakikipaglaban sa gobyerno. Baka akalain ng iba na nakikipaglaban kami, in fact, we are one with government dito sa giyera na ito (We are not fighting the government. In fact, we are one with the government in this war against COVID-19),” she added.

Limpin sounded the alarm on the plan of the government to open up more businesses. “Ang problem natin, nakikita natin na may balak pa silang ma -loosen up pa ang community quarantine, buksan pa ang ibang businesses. Eh padami na ng padami ang mga pasyente (The problem here is, we see that they still intend to loosen up the community quarantine, open other businesses, while the cases are increasing),” she said.

The DoH COVID-19 tracker showed that NCR has a total of 50,611 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 15,041 active cases as of Friday. DoH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire last July 28 reported that the occupancy rate of hospitals’ facilities for COVID-19 in Metro Manila is at 82.2 percent or in the “danger” level.

“Dumadami nanaman ang kaso ng COVID sa NCR and at the same time nararamdaman po namin ang impact nito on other non-covid conditions (The number of COVID cases in NCR is increasing again and at the same time we are feeling its impact on other non-covid conditions). We are hearing reports of non-COVID patients are also being deprived of the needed healthcare,” said Espina.

Dr. Lei Camiling, a member of the PSPHP, said that the current situation is much “worse” as compared last March.

“The progressive lifting of quarantine has inadvertently fueled public misconception that the pandemic is getting better...In fact, if we left our guards down, the next surge nakakatakot po siyang isipin,” she said.

The medical groups said that they are hoping that the government will heed their call.

“Pakinggan nyo po kami dahil kami ang humaharap sa may sakit. Kami po ang humaharap para hindi mamatay ang Pilipino. Kami po ang humaharap para ang healthcare system natin ay patuloy na mabuhay (Listen to us because we are the ones facing the sick. We are the ones facing (these challenges) so that the Filipinos do not die and for our healthcare system to continue to survive),” said Limpin.

“Pag kami po ay bumigay na, diyan po tayo malaki ang problema. As I've said we are the last line of defense. Huwag natin hayaan na ang last line of defense natin ay bumagsak (When we already fall, we will have a big problem. As I've said we are the last line of defense. Do not let our last line of defense fall),” she added.