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Working class in Bacolod hardest hit by COVID-19

Bacolod DRRMO photo

COVID-19 hit the working class in Bacolod City the hardest.

The Bacolod Emergency Operations Center (EOC), in a report on August 3, said that 9,809 of its 15,675 COVID-19 patients were aged 19-59 years old, and the majority on the list came from the working class. They also recorded 1,464 patients in the 60-70 age group and 1,180 cases aged 15 years old and below.

At least 245 patients aged 90 and above, the report also showed.

The data of the city government was backed by the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital (CLMMRH), a Department of Health-run hospital in Bacolod, which reported that COVID-19 hit the working class in the city the hardest.

Based on the clinical profile of its COVID-19 patients, the CLMMRH said that most of them aged 31 to 40 years old, that covered 20.8 percent, followed by the 51-60 year old age group at 18 percent, 61-70 years old at 16.9 percent, and 21-30 years old at 16.4 percent. More than half of these patients admitted for COVID-19 were female, at 53.30 percent, the data further showed.

Dr. Julius Drilon, CLMMRH medical center chief, said that most of their patients belong to the working class, but stressed that employers are not to be blamed here because even if preventive measures are put in place, one can still be infected by COVID-19.

Even in their medical facility, where disinfection is constant and health protocols are strictly implemented, their health workers still contracted the virus, he pointed out.

“When we do the contact tracing on the positive patients to know their history, we discover that they did not even contract the virus at their workplace,” Drilon said, “it’s because they continue to go to crowded and enclosed places, and do not wear face masks.”

He stressed that it is still up to the individuals to practice discipline. “The virus will not end, because there’s a lack of discipline from everyone.”

City Administrator Em Ang, who is also the Bacolod EOC executive director, said the city government temporarily shuts down companies, including business process outsourcing firms, with COVID-19 outbreaks in workplaces. The latest one was the Casino Filipino in July, with 81 cases and two deaths, due to no ventilation.

She said the city only implements granular lockdowns because “we could not afford another lockdown.”

Right now, the city government has tightened its borders to slow down the spread of the virus from neighboring provinces following the Delta variant threat, which is already present in Western Visayas.

The city government is accelerating its vaccination program to cover more residents including senior citizens and individuals with co-morbidities, she also said.

But for business leader Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the working class are hit the hardest by COVID-19 as “these are the people who need to go out to earn a living because if they don’t go out, they will have nothing to eat.”

They are the most affected because they are exposed, he added.

Carbon expressed disappointment that the economic frontliners were at the bottom of the government’s priority list in its vaccination program.

“It’s unfair to workers, to us,” he said, pointing out that the workers are exposed to the infection 16 to 18 hours a day.

He was happy that the government had started negotiations with the business sector to procure its vaccines for its employees, but said it hit a roadblock after the government prioritized the vaccination of health workers, persons with co-morbidities, and senior citizens.

While the government has recently rolled out vaccines for essential workers, Carbon said there is a “wide gap” in the number of employees exposed to the virus.

“We decided to buy our vaccines to protect our workers. Protecting our workers means protecting our business,” he said.*

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