Surge of COVID 19 patients overwhelms Zamboanga de Norte hospitals

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DAPITAN CITY – “Huot sa dughan maglantaw sa mga admitable nga di kasulod dayon sa hospital (It’s heartbreaking to see admittable (patients) who cannot immediately be accommodated in hospitals)…”

This was all Doctor Philip Vargass Limsi, one of only two pulmonologists in Zamboanga del Norte province, could say as hospitals in the province have been overwhelmed with COVID 19 patients because of the sudden surge of infection this week.

“Puno na gyud atong mga ospital, pwede pa unta modugang ug beds pero wala may nurses. Kulang kaayo ang mo-duty parehas sa mga ospital sa Zamboanga or sa Manila (Our hospitals are full, we can increase the beds, but we don’t have enough nurses. We are short of nurses just like the hospitals in Zamboanga or Manila),” said Doctror Esmeralda Nadela, Provincial Health Officer, said in an interview May 1.

The Zamboanga del Norte Inter-Agency Task Force (ZN-IATF), to which Nadela is the vice chair, reported that in Dipolog alone, COVID 19 infections rose 100 percent with 75 confirmed cases last April 28 from 39 cases on April 29.

The entire province’s confirmed active cases went up to 212 cases last April 28 from 147 cases last April 27 while here in Dapitan, the increase was 55 from 42 on the same dates respectively.

The confirmed cases continued to rise in Dipolog to 104 last April 30 and 112 by May 1. In Dapitan, the confirmed cases remained at 61 on April 30 and May I. Meanwhile, the entire province rose to 280 confirmed cases last April 30 and 295 on May 1.

Limsi also said he is alarmed by the sharp rise of cases, mainly in Dipolog, as he advised mildly symptomatic COVID 19 patients not to go to hospital and just stay where they were quarantined.

“Mga mildly symptomatic don’t panic ayaw mo paadmit kulang tag rooms na, coordinate with your doctors, pwede ramo maresetahan pinaagi sa inyo mga representatives nga wa na quarantine (Those who are mildly symptomatic don’t panic, don’t demand for admission because our hospitals no longer have rooms, coordinate with your doctors, you can be given medication through your representatives who are not quarantined),” Limsi said.

Limsi, who have been advising the people in Zamboanga del Norte to avoid gatherings, wear face masks and observe social distancing since day 1 of the pandemic, has reiterated his appeal to control the surge.

The Provincial Capital located in Dipolog and the New Government Center in Dapitan have been closed since early this week for disinfection.

Nevertheless, Nadela said they are not keen of recommending lockdown as of the moment as she stressed confirmed COVID 19 infected and all those they have contact with were already quarantined.

Zamboanga del Norte is under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ).

She also said that the infection surge is not among neighbors, but among relatives. “Yet if the surge continues, we will recommend for a lockdown,” Nadela said.

“Our advantage now is we already have our own molecular laboratory, we can immediately have contact tracing,” she said.

Meanwhile, ZN-IATF reported that as of April 30, only 12,959 were vaccinated in Zamboanga del Norte that have 700,000 people eligible for vaccination.

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