CEBU City may again be placed under a lockdown if the cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) continue to rise.
The warning was issued by Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, chief implementer of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), during a press conference on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020.
The EOC has noted an increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the city in the past seven days.
Garganera said if the public continues to violate quarantine protocols, the city may again be placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) before the end of November.
Garganera fears of a second wave of the Covid-19 transmission in Cebu City, just like what First World countries are experiencing now.
“How much more us,” said Garganera.
He added that if a lockdown were to be imposed again, they have yet to decide whether it should be citywide or granular depending on the demographics.
Data from the Department of Health (DOH) Central Visayas showed that Cebu City logged four Covid-19 cases on Nov. 6, 12 on Nov. 7; seven on Nov. 8; five on Nov. 9; 13 on Nov. 10; and 28 on Nov. 11—the highest recorded cases in the city since the start of November.
Garganera said the 28 new cases logged on a single day is also higher than the number of recoveries on Nov. 11 which were only 14.
DOH 7 spokesperson for Covid-19 updates Mary Jean Loreche said granular lockdowns will help contain the further spread of the virus.
Loreche noted a laxity in the implementation of the health protocols.
“Let’s monitor closely the coming days and continue to remind people to be very cautious and to strictly follow the health standards,” Loreche said.
The EOC noted a rise in outside transmissions which are now 80 percent, while household transmissions are at 20 percent based on data gathered from Oct. 28 to Nov. 10.
Within that 14-day period, 23.43 percent of the cases were found to have been directly exposed to a Covid positive case from outside their homes; while the others who caught the virus said they may have gotten it from their workplace (15.62 percent), public markets (12.50) and supermarkets (9.37 percent).
Garganera hoped the current data will serve as a warning to the public.
As of Nov. 11, the city logged a total of 10,348 Covid-19 cases with 9,534 recoveries. A total of 131 active cases remain.
The number of mortalities also reached 682.
Cebu City currently has a positivity rate of 11.22 percent out of 92,203 individuals tested.
The EOC noted many people are now going out of their homes to attend gatherings while some residents in mountain barangays are also too complacent, violating quarantine protocols, Garganera said.
An inmate of the Cebu City Jail was also brought to a hospital after testing positive for the virus, he added.
Cebu City is now under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) until the end of November.
Meanwhile, Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO) head Jared Limquiaco urged establishments to coordinate with the City and police if they hold sale events to control the crowd and prevent mass gatherings.
This after a footwear store in Barangay Lahug was forced to close on Wednesday, Nov. 11, after shoppers flocked to the establishment for its grand opening 11.11 sale.
Police Col. Josefino Ligan, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) director, said charges will be filed against the owners of JS Footwear for violating executive orders issued by the Cebu City government on health protocols mandated by the Covid-19 Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
“They should have first coordinated with us so that we can help them comply with the health standard requirements set by the IATF,” Ligan said.
Executive Order 094 prohibits commercial establishments from holding bargain sales without the minimum health protocols.
Aside from the store owners, the Cebu City Government also ordered officials of Barangay Lahug to explain why they shouldn’t be administratively charged for allowing the mass gathering on Wednesday.
The City Legal Office, led by City Lawyer Rey Gealon, sent a show cause order to Barangay Lahug chief Hazel Ann Muaña-Empleo and councilors Ronnie Sanchez, Ramie Borromeo and Romeo Borden on Thursday, Nov. 12.
The officials were given 24 hours to explain why they should not be charged for dereliction of duty for allegedly failing to control the mass gathering outside the newly opened store.
Gealon said the officials could also be held liable for allowing the store to operate without a business permit.
“I ask the people of Cebu City to follow minimum health protocols. We have already spent eight months under this pandemic. We should have learned our lesson by now. We cannot afford to be placed under ECQ again,” added Ligan.
Life vs. Living
Filipino-Cebuano Business Club (FilCeb) chairman Rey Calooy urged the local government and frontliners to rethink and re-evaluate the Covid-19 situation based on evidence and science before coming up with any decision on a lockdown.
“I would like to express our deep concern on the impending lockdown. Our second and third quarter Gross Domestic Product showed a negative drop (total-28) and with the prolonged economic recession, this will lead to economic depression which is a more dangerous and scary situation that we may face ahead,” he said in a statement of appeal addressed to Garganera.
“Filceb is hoping to reconsider to strike the balance between life and living. In this way, we recommend the granular lockdown,” Calooy said.
Sought for comment, Garganera said the City should not have to choose between livelihood and the lives of the people, considering that the city’s economy is still recovering.
He said health protocols should only be observed so Cebu City would not go back to where it was months ago.
Meanwhile, the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) called on business establishments to strictly comply with health guidelines.
“We had single digits for weeks already. We should all be responsible enough because Covid is just hiding anywhere and it can strike anytime,” CCCI president Felix Taguiam said.
/ JOB, PAC / JKV, AYB