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Salceda thanks Malacanang for aid with COVID-19 surge

June 17th, 2021

Salceda thanks Malacanang for aid with COVID-19 surge, writes President Duterte for help with Albay COVID surge

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) wrote President Duterte yesterday to thank Malacanang for the its assistance in managing Albay’s recent COVID-19 surge, and to lay out a plan to address the pandemic in the province. Salceda did so through a Memorandum for the President (MFP) which was sent to the Palace yesterday.

“The strategy involves the following components: (1) accelerate vaccination; (2) shift to facilities-based quarantine for first contacts and infected, with improvements to make these facilities more livable; (3) contact-tracing and triaging system, an innovative approach the Management Committee is taking; and (4) treatment capacity expansion. This aims to prevent the need for economically-draining lockdowns,” Salceda explained to the President.

Salceda represents the 2nd district, which accounts for 61% of cases in Albay. The district includes Metropolitan Legazpi, which is the largest economic center of the Bicol region and “is thus more vital to economic recovery and more prone to surges in COVID cases.”

On June 5, 2021, Representative Salceda informed the President through a memorandum for the President (MFP), of an impending wave of COVID-19 infections in the province of Albay.

Following the MFP, on June 6, the National Task Force and the Department of Health extended crucial support and assurances in a meeting and in subsequent discussions. Representative Salceda also constituted a COVID-19 Management and Response Committee composed of local chief executives in the district, heads of public medical facilities, data scientists, civil society organizations, and other key stakeholders, to craft a strategy to anticipate and flatten the COVID-19 surge in cases.

The June 17 MFP explains the ongoing COVID situation in Albay and outlines a strategy, for which Salceda sought Duterte’s intervention and assistance.

COVID situation in Albay

“With the President’s support, ICU capacity in the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH), the province’s main hospital, was tripled from 10 to 30, at first, and then to 45. Overall ICU utilization in the province has declined from 100% to 80%. However, within BRTTH itself, demand for ICU beds continues to exceed supply,” Salceda explained.

“Infectivity rate for Albay itself has declined to 0.97, from the 1.47 rate reported to the President on June 6. However, because of a lack of testing and slow processing of results, the Management Committee believes that many cases remain undetected, and stress the need for contact tracing to ensure that no infected case is given unrestricted opportunities to spread the infection further,” Salceda warned however.

“The number of cases, however, remains on an uptrend, as doubling time continues to decline from 48 days at the June 6 MFP, to 39 days as of June 15. Financial resources of the LGUs are under strain and have already been significantly dedicated to COVID-19. Legazpi City has realigned P28 million, Daraga P30 million, and Camalig P25 million. National government support will be critical in ensuring LGU capacity to manage the developing situation,” Salceda pleaded.

Apart from the strategy laid out in the MFP, Salceda also said that his district’s Management Committee for COVID-19, which includes the district’s LGUs, are intensifying minimum health standards. The Committee has already secured 700,000 facemasks from the Pitmaster Foundation to aid in its prevention strategies. National Task Force chief Carlito Galvez has also assured the district of 7,000 doses of vaccines from the national government buffer, on top of its existing allocations. Treatment, testing, and contact tracing capacities are also being expanded in the district.

The MFP also includes a comprehensive strategy with an outline of agreements and discussions during meetings of the 2D COVID-19 Management and Response Committee.

These included meetings on June 6, 13, 14, and 15 with Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega and 2D-Albay COVID-19 Management Committee.

“Albay during my governorship made its mark in Disaster Risk Reduction. We are merely applying what we learned then to this situation. There are modifications, but the principle of saving every life we can remains central,” Salceda said.

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