Espinoza: Alert Level 3 in NCR, neighboring provinces; is Cebu next?

·3 min read

The National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila and the neighboring provinces are now under Alert Level 3, which is declared when health authorities notice that the areas are with “high and/or increasing case counts and increasing bed utilization and intensive care utilization rates.” With the present state of infection in NCR, the other local government units (LGUs) in the metropolitan areas, like Cebu, should act now before it would be too late again to contain the contagion.

The sudden increase in the Covid-19 and Omicron variant infections in the NCR was attributed to the unabated parties or activities during the Christmas and New Year celebrations. Two persons who came home to Manila from the US and skipped mandatory quarantine will be charged for violation of the quarantine protocols.

As a consequence of the increasing number of the Covid-19 infection in Metro Manila, the IATF has ordered the ban of unvaccinated persons in public places like malls, public markets and in areas where people converge, except to buy for the basic needs.

In Cebu, particularly in the Metro Cebu area that covers the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, Danao, Talisay, Naga and Carcar, and the towns of Minglanilla, Consolacion, Cordova, Compostela, Liloan and San Fernando, there is no report at the moment of any increase in Covid-19 infection.

As Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera puts it, Typhoon Odette (Rai) was somehow a blessing in disguise. The aftermath of Typhoon Odette left Metro Cebu in blackout and with scarce water supply that parties and activities lined up for the Christmas and New Year celebrations were canceled. Garganera is the deputy chief implementer of the City’s Emergency Operations Center against Covid-19.

The residents of Metro Manila and neighboring provinces would again be in dire stress. More people could be out of work as entertainment establishments would have to be closed down since coronavirus can spread fast in enclosed venues that gather crowds. Public transportation would again be regulated back to 70 percent capacity as well as the restaurants.

The question now is, when will the local IATF reimplement the 70 percent capacity in all the restaurants and public transport here in Cebu? Since last month, all the restaurants and public transport are already in full capacity. The other day in Liloan, Cebu, I happened to follow a fully loaded TPUJ with passengers while some were clinging at the rear.

Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama has issued an executive order banning minor children and unvaccinated people in malls. But not all malls have complied with the mayor’s directive. I’ve noticed that more people have lowered their guard against this virus during the holidays. While malls’ management have strictly enforced “No Face Mask, No Entry,” but once inside the malls some hard-asses take off their face masks.

If the minimum health protocols are not again strictly enforced here in Cebu, it’s not a remote possibility that we would be placed under Alert Level 3.

However, stricter implementation of the health protocols against Covid-19 for Cebu or in the metro areas could compound the problem for those, particularly the establishments, who are still recovering from the harsh effects of Typhoon Odette that hit Cebu on Dec. 16, 2021. Hence, it would be a critical matter for the local officials of Cebu and the IATF in deciding whether to raise the Covid-19 alert level.

We, Cebuanos, should not allow a repeat of what happened last year in the months of April to July when the Covid-19 infection was so high and all the hospitals were overwhelmed with patients. Let’s continue our discipline by conscientiously complying with the health protocols.

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