FIRED up by the news on recent cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19), the City Government of Naga began to mobilize on Monday, April 24, this year, its Health Emergency Response Task Force (HERTF) to be able to plan out prevention strategies against further transmission of the dreaded disease.
HERTF is a local inter-agency body created by the city government with a mandate to establish preparedness and ensure efficient government response to assess, monitor, contain, control, and prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The course of action was executed a day after the resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) placing Naga City in Bicol Region under Alert Level 1 status until April 30, this year, was approved. Bicol provinces such as Albay, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, and Sorsogon got the same alert level.
Also declared under Alert Level 1 are the towns of Basud, Capalonga, Daet, San Vicente, and Talisay in Camarines Norte and the municipalities of Balud, Batuan, Masbate City, Mandaon, Milagros, and San Fernando in Masbate. All the rest of Camarines Norte and Masbate towns were put under Alert Level 2.
Unlike those areas categorized under Alert Level 2 or any other places with higher alert level, Naga City is exempted from observing restrictions on venue capacity, which means business establishments in the city are open up to 100% capacity.
In a meeting, Naga Mayor Nelson Legacion directed Dr. Ronaldo Amoranto, Acting City Health Officer, to lead the task force. He was also given instruction to review the safety prevention protocols to help limit the spread of the virus.
“We must remain vigilant and practice the infection prevention and control measures, such as proper use of PPEs, observe the physical distancing rule, and maintain a good personal hygiene, the health officer said.
After saying that the city government is waiting for the delivery of a new kind of anti-Covid-19 vaccines that has greater efficacy, capable to help the immune system to squelch any strain of Covid-19, Amoranto admitted that the new version of the virus is more transmissible than its predecessors.
Allen Reondanga, head of the City Events, Protocol, and Public Information Office (CEPPIO), said that the city mayor has instructed already the chiefs of offices and department heads at the City Hall to send their personnel suspected to have Covid-19 symptoms for antigen testing.
“I requested our health office to oversee the testing of our employees and check those with Covid symptoms so that we can immediately come up with interventions. We already have protocols in place, but it is still essential to remain vigilant because Covid-19 remains a serious public concern,” Legacion said.
Legacion preferred to prioritize the City Hall employees to ensure that they are not infected with Coronavirus considering the nature of their work as government employees who are onto the frontlines to serve the public.
Reondanga said that based on the guidelines of the Department of Health, a fully vaccinated person tested positive for Covid-19 will be sent to 5-day home quarantine. No office lockdown will be enforced.
The 5-day home quarantine rule, however, does not apply to those who are suffering from severe or critical cases that need to be brought to the attention of medical doctors at hospitals.
During the HERTF meeting, which was attended by representatives from different government agencies, it came up that sore eyes could be a significant Covid-19 symptom. Research cited evidence suggesting that Covid-19 virus could sneak into the body via the cornea, the clear half-dome covering the front-center portion of the eyeball.
An educated guess was also made that the virus could spread via tears into the place where it does the most damage – the lungs. How? Via the tear ducts in the eyelids that carry tears away from the eyes and into the nasal cavity. From there, the virus could be inhaled into the lungs.
As of press time on Wednesday, April 26, the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the City Health Office was able to register 15 active cases in the city. A total of 73 confirmed Covid-19 cases were chalked up within the January-April 2023 period. 57 were reported to have recovered from the disease with one failed to survive.
The city’s vaccination activity is continuously being performed at the 2nd floor of the SM City Naga from 10 o’clock in the morning to 4 o’clock in the afternoon, Monday to Friday. It caters to persons from 5 years old to senior citizens, residing or not, in the city. Symptomatic patients in need to undergo antigen test are advised to go to the City Health Office 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.
(LIZEL S. MACATANGAY and JASON B. NEOLA, CEPPIO.)