ILOILO CITY, Sept. 28 (PIA - The Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) has just completed the four-week visits to all six provinces of Western Visayas, namely Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, and Guimaras.
This is in line with its goal to help improve testing capacity and contact tracing in Western Visayas to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
OPAV also personally delivered personal protective equipment (PPEs), masks, alcohol, and medicines to the six provinces for the protection of their frontliners against COVID-19, a media release from OPAV said.
Initially, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino visited the region to meet with local chief executives in the cities of Bacolod and Iloilo and the provinces of Negros Occidental and Iloilo.
The move was in response to a request of Bacolod City mayor Evelio Leonardia asking for help in addressing the increase in COVID-19 in the city and upon the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Bong Go.
"Bacolod is part of my area of responsibility. The role of OPAV is to lower the response time between Malacanang and the Visayas," said Secretary Dino.
He added "If you notice, pag may sulat si Mayor Bing, mag-uusap kami ng gabi, the following day, nagpadala agad kami ng tao through the help of the President and Senator Bong Go."
The meetings with Leonardia, Iloilo City mayor Jerry Trenas, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor aimed to assess the needs, challenges and gaps in the anti-COVID efforts in said areas.
As a result of these initial meetings, OPAV sent Department of Health (DOH) 7 chief pathologist Dr. Mary Jean Loreche and head medical technologist Prince Balaba to help enhance the testing capability of molecular laboratories in Teresita Lopez Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City and the DOH-run Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital in Bacolod City, both in Negros Occidental, and the rest of Western Visayas, the media release said.
President Duterte and Senator Bong Go also sent IATF-EID chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. and Visayas chief implementer of COVID-19 response retired Maj. Gen. Mel Feliciano.
Dino emphasized the role of Gen. Feliciano who is the "man on the ground" for the Covid-19 response.
Feliciano shared the best practices of the Cebu City Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which has succeeded in curbing the spread of COVID-19 and bringing down the number of cases in the city.
Baguio City mayor Benjamin Magalong, together with the Police Regional Office 7, also shared the best practices for contact tracing through a seminar.
On the other hand, Dr. Loreche shared the best practices of Cebu with the molecular laboratories in Teresita Lopez Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City and the DOH-run Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital in Bacolod City, both in Negros Occidental.
Loreche, together with OPAV Assistant Secretary Jonji Gonzales and the rest of the DOH 7 and OPAV team, visited the said laboratories and made recommendations on how to increase the swab samples processing of the laboratory.
Meantime, 3,000 specimens were sent to Cebu for faster processing of the swab samples and address the backlog in the release of test results.
The DOH 7 Cebu Molecular Laboratory is now able to capable of processing swab samples due to the decreasing cases in Cebu.
Currently, the Project Balik Buhay (PBB) of Cebu is being adopted in Western Visayas.
Initiated by OPAV, together with the Department of Health, other government agencies, business sector organizations and the tri-cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, the PBB is a roadmap for the reopening of the economy by ensuring a safe workplace.
Aside from flattening the curve, the goal of government is to slowly open the economy amidst the continuing threat of Covid-19. (PIA6/With report from OPAV)