Dr. Liland Estacion, incident commander, Negros Oriental provincial task force

The Negros Oriental Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) said the recent spike in coronavirus cases was due to holiday gatherings that disregarded health protocols.

Dr. Liland Estacion, assistant provincial health officer, said authorities had anticipated an increase in Covid-19 cases after the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Data showed that Covid-19 cases in the province started to increase in late November 2020, after All Saints and All Souls day, and have continued to grow.

Dr. Estacion said there were conflicting statements from the Department of Health (DOH) on the possible reasons of the recent surge.

“I heard from DOH Secretary (Francisco Duque III), before the holidays, that they are preparing for the spikes of cases after the holidays,” she said.

DOH spokesperson Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire had said that they were still finding out if new cases were due to the feared post-holiday surge.

“We can see the spike of cases in Cebu, Manila, and in Negros (Oriental),” Dr. Estacion said. “This is because of the holidays. There were a lot of parties that were done with disregard for health protocols,” she said.

But local health authorities were positive that cases would start to flatten very soon with the public’s help in adhering to minimum health standards.

Dr. Estacion said cooperation between local authorities and the public effectively controlled cases in the cities of Bayawan, Guihulngan, Canlaon, and the town of Sta. Catalina, where local transmission was first reported in the province.

“Let us be responsible in keeping ourselves and our family safe. We should follow the health protocols and we are sure that the cases will go down,” Estacion said, who is also the incident commander of the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force.

In late December last year, community transmission was declared in Dumaguete City, the capital of the province.

Dondee Señeres, provincial contact tracing head, estimated a weekly average of 40 new cases for Dumaguete alone. The city also accounted for16 out of the total 35 Covid-19 deaths in Negros Oriental.

As of writing, the province has recorded 229 active cases, of which 87 patients came from Dumaguete. – Ryan Sorote