Holiday season factor on the spike of COVID-19 cases 

TACLOBAN CITY- At least 13 persons were reported by the Department of Health(DOH) this week to have died due to the complications caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the region.
And as the number of deaths due to COVID-19 complications rises in the region, its number of cases due to the deadly virus continue to spike as the DOH claims family gatherings and other activities relative to the Christmas and New Year celebrations as the culprit.
Of the 13 fatalities reported by the DOH this week, three of them were reported on Jan 12; five were logged on Jan.13 and four the following day, Jan.14.
One death was recorded by the DOH on Friday, Jan.15.
The Jan. 12 deaths involved a 71-year-old, male from Pinabacdao, Samar who died on January 10; a 60- year old woman from Guiuan, Eastern Samar who died on Jan. 4; and a 71-year old man from Baybay City who died on Jan.9.
On the other hand, the COVID-19 related deaths recorded on January 13 included a 31-year-old woman from Sta. Rita, Samar who died on Jan.10; an 86- year old woman from Tacloban City who died on Jan.8; a 38-year old woman from Mahaplag, Leyte who died on Jan.12, and a 60-year old woman from Naval, Biliran who died on Jan. 7 and a 75-year old woman Tarangnan, Samar who died on Jan. 10.
For Jan. 14 record, the deaths involved a 31-year-old woman from Borongan City who died on Jan. 10; a 78- year old woman from Carigara, Leyte who died on Jan. 11;a 64-year old male from Palo, Leyte who died on Jan.  11, and a 61-year old woman from Lawaan, Eastern Samar who died on Jan.12.
On Friday, the recorded lone death involved a 54- year old man from Capoocan, Leyte who died on Jan. 13.
With these 13 deaths reported by the DOH just this week, the total number of fatalities in Eastern Visayas now stand at 154.
Meantime, the region’s number of COVID-19 cases of the region is now at 12,653 of which 958 are considered as active cases.
Family gatherings and other social activities that took place during the holiday season contributed to the spike of COVID-19 cases here in the region, Dr. Marc Steven Capungcol, head of the DOH-8 epidemiology and surveillance unit, said in a virtual press conference Thursday (Jan. 14).
It was during this period that the region posted double digits of single day cases.
For instance, on December 23 and 24, the region logged its biggest single-day cases with 244 and 258, respectively.
On Christmas Day, the regional COVID-19 cases were 106 while on New Year’s Day, Jan.1, the cases were at 104.
“The increasing number of cases, partly were due to holiday season, family gatherings. Our cases right now involved families. So one of our conclusions because of the social and family gatherings (during the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations),” Capungcol said.
Aside from this reason, they also cited the big number of people who went to the shopping malls during the holiday season and the number of swab results being tested by the three molecular laboratories operating in the region, namely, the Eastern Visayas Regional COVID-19 Testing Center at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, the Divine Word Hospital Virology Laboratory, both in Tacloban City; and the Ormoc Molecular Diagnostic Center in Ormoc City.
As this developed, the DOH in the region has appealed to all local government units to expand their quarantine facilities to accommodate more possible COVID-19 patients, and capacitate their hospitals where the patients could be isolated.
“We are now in moderate to high risk of transmission in the region,” Capungcol said.
Dr. Exuperia Sabalberino, DOH regional officer-in-charge, said that the positivity rate of Eastern Visayas is among the highest in the country.
“The implication of having a high positivity rate means that we will have a high utilization of our hospitals which is dangerous because the capacity of our hospitals here in the region is very limited unlike in Metro Manila,” she said.
“It would mean that we might not have any available hospitals for our future COVID-19 cases in the coming days and which would result to increase on the number of deaths,” Sabalberino added.
The positivity rate of the region almost stand at 10 percent per the number of confirmed cases with those people who were tested as possible carriers of the dreaded virus.