By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz yesterday assured Negros Occidental’s residents that the province remains free from the Delta variant of COVID-19, even though neighboring provinces are now experiencing a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases.
According to Diaz, they are now employing several restrictions in order to prevent the entry of the Delta variant such as requiring those entering the province to submit a negative RT-PCR test.
Although Negros Occidental only reported the Alpha and Beta variants of COVID-19, Diaz said preparations are now being made in case the Delta variant enters and causes a new surge.
He said the province’s oxygen plant located near the Teresita Lopez Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City is producing 70 oxygen tanks a day, or roughly equal to more than 1,540 per month.
At present, even with the province still having more than a thousand active cases, the use of oxygen among the provincial government-owned hospitals remains normal.
Diaz said hospitals in the province consume at least 1,200 oxygen tanks per month, and with the present production capacity, there is at least a buffer of 340 tanks.
“We are in a safe place, so far with regards to our oxygen tanks are concerned,” Diaz said.
However, with the recent procurement of high flow oxygen cannula, he pointed out the recently acquired machines consume more oxygen tanks.
Because of this, Diaz said they have reached out to the Provincial Engineer’s Office (PEO) on how they could improve and upgrade the efficiency of the province’s oxygen plant in order to increase production.
He even revealed that the province’s oxygen plant only restarted operations last year after sitting idle for one year, and they even had to ask the PEO to send mechanical engineers to the plant in order to troubleshoot the machinery and to determine what parts are needed in order to fix the ones that are broken.
“We are stepping up production and hopefully we can produce more kung magsaka man gid ang mga kaso,” Diaz added.
In case of demand further increases, Diaz said the province has some suppliers who will be able to cover for the province’s oxygen needs.
In a separate phone interview, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said he has ordered the hospitals in the province to further increase their bed capacity.
However, Lacson admitted that the province’s health system might collapse if the province experiences a surge caused by the Delta variant.
The governor again appealed to the public for their cooperation by continuing to follow minimum health protocols such as wearing of face masks and face shields, observing physical distancing and practicing regular hand washing./DGB, WDJ