Cimatu: Keep Cebu City under ECQ

    DERN Secretary Roy Cimatu. (Photo by PNA)

    CEBU City should remain under strict enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) as severe and critical cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including deaths, continue to rise.

    Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who oversees the national government’s campaign against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cebu City, made this recommendation to the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) after a week of observing the Cebu City pandemic situation.

    Cimatu, also known as the Cebu COVID -19 Crisis chief, has also recommended maintaining a strict lockdown in 12 barangays in the city where high numbers of COVID-19 cases had been recorded.

    “So ito ngayon ang aking ano, i-continue natin ang ECQ because to them, umpisa pa lang ito eh. Kasi noong una na na-announce iyong increase, itong ECQ ay hindi kaagad na naipatupad (So this is my recommendation: to continue the ECQ because to them, this has just started. When the ECQ was announced, it was not immediately implemented),” he said.

    He said Cebu City residents only started complying with stay-at-home orders when additional police and military forces were deployed to Cebu City to ensure strict compliance to lockdown rules.

    Cimatu said as of June 29, Cebu City saw acceleration in COVID-19 related deaths from six last week to 13 on Tuesday. He said there are also 1,500 active cases in the city.

    DOH records show that Cebu City has a cumulative number of 4,639 cases as of June 29. It logged 987 cases over the last 14 days.

    “So ito ngayon ang nakikita ko, that we have to ano muna ito, contain muna ito bago luwagan natin itong ECQ. Then kung naluwagan na natin ang ECQ, i-concentrate na natin dito sa lockdown, iyong granular na tawag namin na doon lang, naka-focus lang dito sa 12 na barangay. So iyan lang muna ang aking pinaplano (So this is what I see, we have to contain the rise in cases first before we downgrade from ECQ. When we ease from the ECQ, we will then concentrate on the lockdown, focus it on 12. That is my plan),” Cimatu said.

    He added that there is also a need to increase the critical care capacity of the city through an increase in the number of healthcare workers like doctors and nurses, whether in public or private hospitals; increase bed capacity allocated for COVID-19 patients, and put up bigger isolation and quarantine facilities by converting gyms or putting up facilities in areas far from populated barangay or communities.

    Cimatu said among the reasons for the increase of COVID-19 cases in the city is the use of the city as transient point for returning overseas Filipino workers and locally stranded persons, the setting up of community quarantines in the middle of populated barangays and the non-compliance of local residents, including local leaders, to medical protocols and minimum health standards.

    He cited the case of barangay officials from Basak San Nicholas in Cebu City that held a religious procession despite the prevailing ECQ in the city. He said administrative charges had been filed against the barangay officials led by its barangay captain.

    President Duterte, in his 14th report to Congress, said Cebu City has been declared as a “critical COVID-19 zone” and the national government has extended whatever help it can to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the Visaya metropolis.

    Duterte said the Center for Health Development (CHD)-Central Visayas had deployed additional health personnel “to cater to patients of Cebu City,” including the monitoring of situation, fast-tracking the accreditation of additional laboratories, capacitating barangay cluster clinics, strengthening contact tracing initiatives with local government units, establishment of a functional referral network to decongest hospitals, and distribution of personal protective equipment sets to both government facilities and private hospitals, among others.

    The President is expected to announce last night his decision on whether to sustain or downgrade the ECQ in Cebu City.

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