Cebu City lockdown can now be relaxed: Cimatu

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    THE enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed in Cebu City can now be downgraded and relaxed due to the improving recovery rate and critical response of the city’s health sector, Evironment Secretary Roy Cimatu yesterday said.

    Cimatu, who was tasked by President Duterte to oversee the national government’s campaign against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cebu City, insisted the recovery rate in the metropolis has greatly improved in the past two weeks.

    “I have repeated that, about my recommendation for a reduction of the classification from ECQ. There has been a drop because there is a significant change in the many different aspects in our efforts here,” Cimatu said during the Laging Handa network briefing.

    He said there had been an increase in the readiness and number of isolation and quarantine facilities, an improvement in critical care capability and capacity of hospitals, and an increase in the number of frontliners.

    Morale of medical front liners was likewise given a boost by the city government’s grant of additional incentives.

    Cimatu said the people are also now more compliant with minimum health standards and quarantine protocols, unlike in the past month when people were seen walking without masks and not observing social distancing and even holding gatherings like gambling and street drinking or celebrating religious feasts.

    Cimatu said while some hospitals are already at the critical level due to the increase in cases and bed occupancy, “it is still manageable.”

    Records from the Department of Health showed that Cebu City, as of July 13, has 6,220 confirmed cases with 2367 recoveries and 211 deaths.

    Cimatu said one problem that they are now seeing is the overwhelming need for crematoriums and columbariums. He said the city needs to find and establish a burial ground for those who died of Covid-19.

    Cebu City is the only area in the country remains under the ECQ until today.

    President Duterte is expected to announce changes in community quarantine levels in different parts of the county on Wednesday night after his meeting with members of the Inter-agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the IATF would still decide the appeal of some local government units about their community quarantine levels.

    Roque said one of those that appealed is Bacolod City which is under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) until July 15. He did not say what the IATF has proposed for Bacolod’s quarantine level and if the city wants it relaxed or restricted.

    In the case of Metro Manila, which is currently under general community quarantine (GCQ) until Wednesday, Roque said there was no discussion about lowering it to MGCQ.

    He said current data on the doubling rate and critical care capacity in Metro Manila does not inspire a downgrade to MGCQ.

    Cabinet Secretary and IATF co-chairman Karlo Nograles, over the weekend, said the capacity of a local government and the speed of response of the local official to contain the virus and treat the patients would be considered in deciding whether to downgrade or retain the current GCQ level in Metro Manila and the other areas in the country.

    NON-COMPLIANT

    Twenty percent of business establishments in the National Capital Region (NCR) were found to be non-compliant to the Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19 issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

    In a statement, DOLE-NCR Regional Director Sarah Mirasol disclosed that out of the 5,049 companies they have monitored in the region from June 8 to July 1, they found an overall compliance rate of 80 percent.

    “About 4,062 business establishments in the NCR have complied with our interim guidelines,” said Mirasol, adding: “When we say compliant, that means the employer has an established health and safety practices in their workplaces amid COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with the interim guidelines.”

    The protocols include wearing of face masks, maintaining physical distance of one meter at all times, checking and recording daily the temperature of their workers and visitors using health symptoms questionnaire, and ensuring sanitation and disinfection process inside their work areas and outside their office premises, among others.

    The top five monitored industries in Metro Manila are accommodation and food services with a total of 18,641 workers from 1,581 establishments; other service activities with 30,959 workers from 1,098 establishments; wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles with 12,252 workers from 1,600 establishments; manufacturing with 17,308 workers from 172 establishments; and administrative and support services with 53,093 workers from 124 establishments.

    The area with the highest number of monitored establishments in NCR were in the MUNTAPARLAS (Muntinlupa, Taguig, Parañaque, Las Piñas) cluster with 1,415 covering 37,378 workers; followed by PAPAMAMARISAN (Pasig, Pateros, Mandaluyong, Marikina, San Juan) with 1,243 covering 68,835 workers; CAMANAVA (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela) with 946 covering 19,699 workers; Makati-Pasay with 548 covering 19,876 workers; Quezon City with 508 covering 18,894 workers; and Manila with 389 covering 5,048 workers.

    But despite having non-compliant firms, the DOLE official hinted at not immediately slapping sanctions against them.

    Instead, she said the DOLE would be extending assistance and technical support to all workplaces, employers, and workers in complying with the guidelines.

    “The ongoing pandemic had posed major challenges and adjustments on business establishments. So our approach would be to continue providing employers with technical assistance,” said Mirasol.

    NAVOTAS LOCKDOWN

    The Joint Task Force COVID Shield has tapped the services of 348 cops and soldiers to augment the local police in implementing a 14-day lockdown in Navotas City to limit non-essential movements of residents starting July 16, Thursday.

    Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, JTF COVID Shield commander, said 100 policemen will come from the Northern Police District Mobile Force Battalion (MFB), another 100 cops will be from the National Capital Region Police Office-MFB, 81 from the Special Action Force, 42 from the Maritime Group, and 25 soldiers will come from the AFP’s Joint Task Force National Capital Region.

    The deployment of additional troops to Navotas City was in connection with the order of Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco on Monday who complained that the city’s residents continue to ignore minimum health protocols needed to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

    Tiangco said businesses will still be allowed to operate and people with jobs will still be permitted to go out of their houses.

    Eleazar said he has already talked with Tiangco to map out plans on how to limit the movement of the city’s residents.

    “Our task is to contain the unnecessary movement of people and keep all residents at home except for the medical frontliners and other people who are authorized to go out. The task is to ensure that APORs (authorized people outside of residences) shall follow the health protocols,” Eleazar said. – With Gerard Naval and Raymond Africa