The last couple of weeks saw another wave of coronavirus disease (COVID)-19 transmissions in the country, especially in what is now known as NCR-plus–or the entire National Capital Region plus the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna,–prompting the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), with the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte, to place the said area on Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) until April 4.
Back on ECQ, NCR+ residents should expect stringent limitations on the movement and transportation of people, with a heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce community quarantine protocols. In addition, industries that are allowed to operate in the NCR+ bubble will be strictly regulated to the barest essential, with local government units to provide food and essential services to their constituents in the whole duration of what may be seen as a semi-lockdown of sorts.
It will be a hard week for residents of NCR+ but with the ECQ period coinciding with the nation’s observance of the Holy Week and work just until month’s end, it won’t be as difficult as it may initially seem. Perhaps the Holy Week break is all that we need to bring new cases back to unalarming levels.
Meanwhile, here in Western Visayas, the region is under the Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) status which, while a level higher than the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), is still permissive in many ways, shape or form.
That could well be the reason why Iloilo City mayor Jerry Treñas isn’t raising hell over the IATF mandate, even saying he no longer intends to challenge the quarantine classification that will be up for the whole of next month. And when you see JPT not challenging something, we all know it’s good to go!
Anyway, looking at the latest advisory from the Department of Health’s Center for Health Development here in the region, the total active COVID-19 cases in Western Visayas has ballooned back to 1,743 after dipping to a low three-digit total—down to 726 cases, to be exact—a couple of months back.
And after several weeks of yielding the lead to Iloilo Province in terms of the most active cases in the region, Negros Occidental is back in the ‘race’ once again as it topped Western Visayas for the weekly haul of new cases, beating Iloilo by 10 cases, 166-156, for the week covering March 22 to 28, 2021.
And while Iloilo is still way up on top in the total active cases with 536 to Negros Occidental’s 419, it will only be a matter of time before it zooms back to the top of the list if current trends continue. That is something that I know to be true about this pandemic in the almost one year that I was collating DOH data and making sense of it.
Meanwhile, the province of Antique continues to amaze me no end with its performance so far during this pandemic.
Weighed down by many of the problems that beset a second-class province considered the poorest in the region save for the island-province of Guimaras, many are actually commending Antique with how they are successfully warding off COVID-19 outside of their borders.
As of latest count, Antique ‘only’ has 180 total cases since the pandemic started, which is quite an achievement given that their population is fourth in the region behind the provinces of Negros Occidental, Iloilo and Capiz, and the next province with the least number of cases is Guimaras province with 364 cases, more than double that of Antique. In fact, that would have been much lesser had not 12 Antiqueños were infected only last week and another 32 so far this week!
The province’s single fatality from the virus also deserves praise considering that they are supposed to have limited hospital facilities to combat this pandemic while highly-urbanized cities like Iloilo and Bacolod have 171 and 188 COVID-19 deaths, respectively.
The province’s elected officials may have been doing something out-of-this-world to be limiting both the infected and the dead to the barest minimum, that much could be true.