The spread of COVID-19 infections in Puerto Princesa City has not shown signs of slowing down, even with what contact tracing tsar Benjamin Magalong observed during a recent visit as a spotty effort in contact tracing by health authorities. The number of new suspect cases that are caught in the tracking system still looked troubling.

The number of infections is now hovering in thousands at any given time, a far cry from what we’ve seen at the height of the ECQ months during the first year of the pandemic when we were attending to only 30 to 50 cases and we had only two or three isolation facilities.

The health system is already completely overwhelmed. As of last week, the city had at least 10 facilities that are already fully booked. The primary facility, the Skylight Hotel, had already been retrofitted to support moderate cases that could no longer be accommodated in hospitals. Even the hospitals reported this week they could no longer expand their bed capacities because they are in short supply of nurses.

The challenge for the health system is not insurmountable though, and authorities are trying to find solutions to plug the many gaps in their Covid response capacity. One of these alternative solutions is to tap into the local barangays to put up new isolation facilities.

There is little information to go by on how prepared and capacitated are local government units particularly the barangays to take on a more critical role in medical care. But in these hard times, there is a need to improvise with whatever new solutions are possible.

Additional quarantine facilities should help slow down the rate of infection, which needs to happen soon if we want to avoid a more terrifying doubling rate of cases.

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