Capitol, Bacolod harmonize COVID protocol


Hours after former congressman Albee Benitez moved his voter’s registration in Bacolod citing lack of cooperation of the city for a unified COVID-19 response, the Bacolod City Public Information Office released a press statement confirming a more harmonized approach to curb the spread of the virus.

Officials of Bacolod City Emergency Operations Center – Task Force (EOC-TF), the Provincial Health Office (PHO), and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) met Tuesday [April 20] to discuss important matters about the coordination process between the two local government units (LGUs).

According to Bacolod City Administrator and EOC executive director Em Ang, the coordination meeting will be regularly held weekly between the two LGUs to synchronize their operations.

Regarding the data, the City and the Province will be sharing their respective daily COVID-19 situationers, which include the number of active cases, available quarantine and step-down facilities, data on patient extraction, and available hospital beds in the seven public and private hospitals in Bacolod.

Through this coordination, the LGUs will be able to share their best practices with each other, OIC-City Health Officer Dr. Edwin Miraflor Jr. said.

“This will synchronize and harmonize the patient referrals of the two LGUs,” he added.

Assistant Provincial Health Officer Dr. Jessica Pama welcomed the conduct of regular coordination meetings.

Pama said that the coordination between Bacolod and Negros Occidental will facilitate easy access to the Healthcare Capacity Utilization Rate (CUR) of the seven hospitals in the City.

She added that this would allow “smooth communications and referrals” for hospital admission, especially those patients with severe symptoms coming from the province.

In Bacolod, the One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) System is in place; it aims to ensure that there are available hospital beds for individuals with severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Ang said the two LGUs have already clarified the official guidelines on the use of hotels in Bacolod as quarantine facilities during their first coordination meeting last April 16.

Ang stressed that only hotels validated by the Department of Health (DOH) are allowed to function as quarantine facilities to make sure that COVID-19 positive and negative individuals are both safe.

Hotels that accept regular guests are not allowed to operate as quarantine facilities because they will expose non-infected individuals to COVID-19, Ang added.

In welcoming the coordination, PDRRMO head Zeaphard Gerhart Caelian said: “I hope that we can interact regularly so that if we have concerns, the City can immediately address it, and likewise with the province. We have to work hand-in-hand since we are in one island.”

He also stressed that the Province is campaigning for the use of “StaySafe,” which is the country’s official platform for health condition reporting, contact tracing, social distancing systems, and border controls.

Bacolod, through its EOC, is also endorsing the use of “StaySafe” as one of the requirements for inbound travelers, on top of the BaCTraC, its online contact tracing system.

“We are also recommending ‘StaySafe’ but at the end of the day, we still have BaCTraC IDs in compliance with City Ordinance No. 941. At the same time, our data officers have full access to the database of the BaCTraC System. That’s why it’s easy to track the activities of a COVID-19 positive index and their close contacts,” said EOC deputy medical Dr. Chris Sorongon.

“We will also be able to identify the worklace and different establishments that the index has visited,” he added.