Cebu City hospitals to increase COVID-19 bed capacity as cases rise

PRIVATE hospitals in Metro Cebu are increasing their bed allocation for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients as severe cases in the highly-urbanized area continue to swell. Department of Health (DoH) Central Visayas Regional Director Jaime S. Bernadas, in a statement on June 15, said the planned expansion will bring isolation beds in private hospitals to 548 while government hospitals will have 364. He added that the DoH regional office “will augment human resources for health to assist” in the increased bed capacity. “COVID-19 has highlighted deficiencies of the overall health capacity of the region. However, it should be noted that these deficiencies were already present even before the current pandemic,” Mr. Bernadas said. The Cebu Doctors’ Group of Hospitals is among those setting up the biggest expansion at 175 beds from 100 for mild and moderate COVID-19 cases, and to 36 from 15 intensive care unit (ICU) beds. “Our role is to calm the public by providing enough COVID beds and COVID ICUs. That’s the only way,” Cebu Doctors’ Group President Potenciano Larrazabal III said over the Mugstoria Ta program live-streamed by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas. The group’s members include the Cebu Doctors University Hospital, Mactan Doctors, North General, South General, San Carlos General, and Ormoc Doctors. In the same program attended by other health officials, it was noted that while the average daily cases remain flat, there has been an increase in severe cases, which require hospital care. Latest available data from the DoH regional office, which is as of June 12, show 4,591 cases in the entire Central Visayas. Cities in the Metro Cebu area with the highest cases are: Cebu, 1,366; Mandaue, 89; Lapu-Lapu City, 70; and Talisay, 61. Of the regional total, 1,094 are in hospital facilities while 1,856 are under home isolation. There have been 1,556 recoveries and 85 deaths. The cities of Cebu and Talisay have been placed under stricter quarantine protocols from June 16-31.— MSJ

Sibuyan Island group asks gov’t to reassess road project that will cut through Mt. Guiting-Guiting


A NON-PROFIT organization in Sibuyan Island has called on the government to again stop and reevaluate a road project that will cut through the Mt. Guiting-Guiting Natural Park, a declared protected area. “Mt. Guiting-Guiting Natural Park or known as #G2 has thick forests which serve as carbon sink and protection against landslides and floods in the entire island,” Rodne Galicha, chairman of the Bayay Sibuyanon Inc., said in a statement emailed on June 16. Mr. Galicha pointed out that the project was already halted in 2018 by the Department of Public Works and Highways, but was again included in the 2020 national budget with a P95 million allocation. The project, a 3.8-kilometer road that provides a link to the Magdiwang Port from San Fernando, is supported by local officials citing economic benefits. Mr. Galicha, on the other hand, argues that the environmental cost outweighs the potential commercial value. With Mt. Guiting-Guiting’s plant and mammal biodiversity, considered one of the richest in the world, “The small island of Sibuyan has been contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and disaster risk reduction,” he said. The mountain’s watersheds also power a mini-hydro power plant that serves as an energy source on the island. He also noted that the project did not go through community consultation. Mr. Galicha, a recipient of the 2018 Ten Outstanding Young Men Philippines award for Environment and Climate Change, said the P95 million budget for the road should instead by realigned for the coronavirus response or reallocated to unfinished infrastructure projects on the island such as the circumferential and farm to market roads, bridges, and ports.

Metro Manila bicycle lanes to be coordinated, says MMDA

THE METROPOLITAN Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said it will coordinate all bicycle lanes that will be set up in Metro Manila, which is composed of 16 cities and one municipality. MMDA General Manager Jose Arturo S. Garcia, Jr., in a virtual hearing of the House of Representatives committee on Metro Manila development on Tuesday, said they are already coordinating with the Department of Transportation and Department of Public Works and Highways to “connect” the bikes lanes. He noted that some local governments already have bicycle lanes while others have started plans as cycling has become an important mode of transport amid the limited public transport services during the lockdown. On June 5, the House committee on transportation approved several bills that seek to establish bike-friendly communities across the country. — Genshen L. Espedido