Collaboration among various sectors, government support key to Cebu's Covid response success

·4 min read

THE strong collaboration among different sectors and the support from the national government helped bring down Covid-19 transmission in Cebu, said Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, presidential assistant for the Visayas.

Dino made this statement when the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) formally turned over seven Covid-19 Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities (TTMF) in key areas in Cebu.

“These are products of convergence, collaboration, cooperation and strong will to serve amid this pandemic,” he said. “As early as January, even before Covid-19 reached our shores, we have already started having meetings, discussing how to prepare for the inevitable.”

The Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, together with the local government units (LGUs), the Department of Health (DOH) and other national government agencies, the business sector, non-government organizations and medical professionals came up with measures to address the pandemic.

“When Cebu was placed on lockdown with the rest of the country, we have already established plans in order to arm our battle with Covid-19 with the proper technical and logistical support,” Dino said.

Through the efforts of DOH-Central Visayas, led by Regional Director Jaime Bernadas, and the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center headed by Dr. Gerardo Aquino Jr., Cebu was the first to have polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing in the Visayas, he said.

Also, Dino recognized the assistance of the Cristina Lee Dino Foundation, Sacred Heart School Batch 85 and Cebu City headed by Mayor Edgar Labella.

They enabled Cebu to increase testing capacity during the first few months of lockdown even without depending so much on Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), he stressed. At the time, the RITM was also swamped by the surge of cases in Metro Manila.

“I am proud to say that our LGUs especially Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City and Mandaue City and the Province of Cebu together with our national line agencies composing the RIATF, were really united in this fight against Covid-19, and that has made us last up to this day despite all the hurdles and challenges along the way,” Dino said.

“Since the initial lockdown, we have continued to look for solutions and we appreciate all of you, our partners, for your continued support and cooperation,” he added.

The doctors, nurses and medical technologists, who have risked their lives, have also been instrumental in the Covid-19 battle, Dino said.

Dino also expressed gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong' Go for sending Environment Secretary Cimatu to oversee the situation in Cebu during the peak of the pandemic.

“Along with him (Cimatu) came our Covid-19 IATF Chief Implementer for Visayas, Gen. Mel Feliciano, who championed the establishment of an Emergency Operations Center that is highly efficient and effective,” Dino said.

Feliciano established the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Cebu City which, at the time, experienced a spike in positive cases. He came up with a Covid Playbook, a comprehensive strategy that aims to contain the spread of the Sars-CoV-2 virus.

The EOC concept was replicated by other LGUs in Cebu, which now continue to have lower cases.

“I really do hope that this decrease of daily new cases is already a sign that this pandemic is coming to its end. And we can already bounce back from the economic losses that our people, especially the poor, have experienced in the last seven months,” Dino said.

But he stressed the need for continued vigilance. “We will make sure that our people will continue to follow the health protocols: mask, hand hygiene, physical distancing, as we move along and try to be productive with what’s left of 2020.”

The Covid-19 TTMFs will also be ready to serve the people in the unfortunate instance when cases would resurge, Dino said.

The TTMFs are located at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and at the Hoops Dome in Lapu-Lapu City; Cebu City Quarantine Center (CCQC) in Cebu City; North Bus Terminal in Logarta Avenue, Mandaue City; DPWH regional office at the South Road Properties, Cebu City; Correctional Institution for Women at the Cebu Provincial Police Office; and the Apas Evacuation Center in Cebu City.

Meanwhile, Opav is now rolling out the General Mel Covid Playbook in Western Visayas, particularly in Bacolod City, where daily cases reached almost 200.

A month after the city was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine, Bacolod has less than 50 daily cases, and even going as low as 30 cases a day, Dino pointed out. (PR)