IBA, Zambales — Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. on Friday urged Zambales residents to strictly observe health safety protocols and get vaccinated in face of the continuing transmission of COVID-19 in the province.
Zambales was among the 14 provinces in the country that recently registered “very high” or above 20 percent COVID-19 positivity rates as of July 29, according to the OCTA Research Group.
Zambales had the fourth lowest percentage in the list with a positivity rate of 27.2 percent, while Isabela scored the highest with 36.3 percent, followed by Tarlac at 31.6 percent.
Ebdane, who had earlier identified health as his administration’s firs priority, warned that restrictions may again be imposed if the number of cases would further grow and escalate the classification of Zambales from its current Alert Level 1 rating.
“We have seen a resurgence of cases lately from just two active cases on July 1 to 90 active cases on July 31, and this is a matter of concern for us,” Ebdane said.
“This is not the time to be complacent. I have to remind all my kababayan that the pandemic is not yet over and that COVID is still here, and I urge them to continue to wear mask, practice physical distancing and disinfection, and of course, get vaccinated,” he added.
According to the Zambales Provincial Health Office (PHO), there are 94 active COVID-19 cases in the province as of August 5, with infections recorded in all the 13 towns.
The municipality of Cabangan has the greatest number of active cases with a total of 14, followed by Castilejos with 12 and Palauig with 10.
Next comes San Felipe with 9; Iba, Subic, Masinloc, and Santa Cruz, with 8 cases each; Botolan, 7; San Antonio, 6; San Marcelino, 2; and San Narciso and Candelaria with 1 each.
In the last two years of the pandemic, the province had recorded a total of 12,002 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 11,205 recoveries and 703 deaths, giving it a high recovery rate of 93.36 percent.
Ebdane said the provincial government is boosting its pandemic response with the upgrading of health facilities and an aggressive vaccination program that takes public health workers to even the remotest barangays to get residents vaccinated.
PHO records show that Zambales already attained 61.97 percent of its vaccination target with 402,596 residents already fully vaccinated. PHO had also given a total of 90,971 booster doses to residents.
On the other hand, a total of 23,504 or 3.62 percent of the target population are now partially vaccinated, while 223,515 or 34.41 percent have not had any COVID-19 vaccine jab.
Meanwhile, PHO head Dr. Noel Bueno said that even as the number of active cases had breached 90 lately, only 23 of the active cases were actually hospitalized.
“We have a total of 237 COVID bed capacity and only 17 of these are occupied as of August 3. Thus, hospital capacity is still manageable as COVID bed utilization is only 7.17 percent,” he added.
Of the recent rash of infections, Bueno said that increased mobility, violation of health protocols, and decreased vaccination rate may be the contributing factors.
“Since commercial activities and travel are already allowed under Alert Level 1, most of us feel less worried about the pandemic and carry on as if this is already the new normal, but we have to keep observing health protocols to reduce community transmission,” he added.