The Philippine Medical Association, along with medical societies and specialty societies of Negros Occidental, wrote Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia suggesting among others an establishment of testing facilities, as well as the continued closure of borders except for essential goods, cargo, and supplies.
The doctors, led by the PMA – Canlaon Medical Society, and PMA Negros Occidental Medical Society gave the recommendations as the city prepares to ease into a Modified General Community Quarantine as recommended by the interior and local government Secretary Eduardo Ano.
The medical community, in a letter to the mayor, reacted to the “low-risk” label by the national Inter-Agency Task Force on Bacolod, which they said was a risk status that was based on “limited data”.
“Our testing centers are not yet in place, and we have only been testing approximately less than 1% of our population. Thus, the cases that are published are not representative of the actual scenario in our City,” the letter said.
Among recommendations are: the immediate establishment of RT-PCR testing facilities and molecular labs for Bacolod and Negros Occidental manned by a well-trained staff especially on specimen collection; mass testing of healthcare workers and all suspected/probable cases;
collaboration of the barangay health workers, Department of Education, and the media in massive information campaign to the community, especially on the importance of precautionary measures like wearing of masks, social distancing, and proper hygiene to help them adapt to the new normal, and protect them from infection;
the “gradual return to business in order” to improve the economic status of the City but with special conditions like observance of social distancing, the “no mask, no entry policy”, and establishment of handwashing areas in the entrance of business establishments, with restaurants operating only on take-out or delivery basis while stores are encouraged to continue their delivery services so that people would have to stay at home;
continue measures that place restrictions on activities and movement (like color-coding, and issuance of quarantine passes); allow modes of transportation to resume but require them to practice social distancing; continued prohibition of mass gatherings, like in churches, and programs and opt for online methods;
continue the ban on liquor; strict implementation of social distancing in pharmacies, markets, supermarkets, banks, and other public places; continue with the dedicated team for contact tracing for the city/province and continue with active case finding and contact tracing at the barangay level using pre-set criteria by the Department of Health with mandatory quarantine of suspected cases and family members exposed while awaiting results;
continued closure of borders, with strict entry only for important items like food, goods and supplies, and continued adequate and functional quarantine/isolation facilities per city/municipality, with returning Negrenses subjected to mandatory 14-day quarantine in these centers upon arrival in Negros, and repeat testing before being allowed to go home to their families.
Resumption of activities should also not allowed until facilities are in place.
The letter was signed by Dr. Ma. Ivy V. Malata, president of PMA – Canlaon Medical Society, and Dr. Roberto Puerta, president of Philippine Medical Association – Negros Occidental Medical Society.
It is co-signed and supported by the following specialty societies: Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Disease – Negros Occidental Chapter, Philippine College of Physicians – Negros Occidental Chapter, Philippine Medical Association – Negros Occidental, Philippine College of Chest Physicians – Negros Occidental Chapter, Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society – Negros Occidental Chapter, Philippine Pediatric Society – Negros Occidental Chapter, Philippine College of Surgeons – Negros Occidental Chapter,
Philippine Society of Anesthesiologists – Negros Occidental Chapter, Philippine Society of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery – Negros Occidental Chapter, Philippine Dermatological Society – Negros Occidental Chapter, and Philippine Association of Rehabilitation Medicine – Negros Occidental Chapter.