IATF: Cebu Covid cases ‘mostly mild’

THE number of Covid-19 cases in Cebu City may be going up, but most of the patients are asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms and the death rate is manageable, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) noted.

Cebu's management of Covid-19 has earned an oral commendation from Secretary Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the IATF.

He said it may be likely for Cebu City to remain under general community quarantine (GCQ) after June 15, 2020, while there is a “high chance” for towns and cities under Cebu Province to transition to a more relaxed quarantine classification.

Galvez said it will all be up to President Rodrigo Duterte how to classify Cebu City and Cebu, and this will be known on Monday, June 15.

“If we look at the granular data, nakikita natin na ang Cebu Province, they are mostly in the green area,” said Galvez.

“Malaki ang tyansa na maipasa sa IATF,” he continued.

By that, Galvez means there is a chance the IATF will favor Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s appeal to place Cebu Province under the more relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) from its current general community quarantine (GCQ) status.

Galvez said the governor’s appeal will be discussed during an IATF meeting on Monday.

As for Cebu City, the epicenter of the Covid-19 crisis in the Visayas region, Galvez said he cannot predict what will happen.

“I cannot prematurely announce kung anong mangyayari,” he told reporters following a two-hour meeting with Cebu's key public leaders on Thursday, June 11, 2020 at the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (Opav) in Mabolo, Cebu City.

Galvez visited Cebu to check on the status of its fight against the Covid-19 along with his deputy, Vivencio Dizon, who has been designated to oversee the Covid swabbing.

They met with Governor Garcia, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, Department of Health (DOH) Central Visayas Director Jaime Bernadas, and Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Albert Ignatius Ferro, among others.

Balance

Galvez told officials it was important to find a balance between health care, public safety, and helping Cebu's economy to recover.

The IATF has a continuing assessment for the quarantine classification in various areas of the country.

Galvez said they will be visiting hospitals on June 12 to check their overall health care capacity.

Meanwhile, Dizon said they have distributed 10,000 test kits for the whole Cebu Island.

“Cebu is very important in our fight against the Covid-19,” Dizon said in Tagalog.

‘Safety first’

As of June 11, Cebu City has breached the 3,000 mark for Covid-19 cases, the most number of cases in Central Visayas, with 35 barangays recording new cases. ( 35 Cebu City barangays, City Jail report new cases)

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam said while they observed more businesses opening up, public safety must also come first.

"As days go by fast, we can see more businesses are opening up, which will slowly spur economic activity. But put safety in mind although recent news for the past few days is not good," Taguiam said.

"We are reminding everyone to put health ahead of everything," Taguiam said.

For Steven Yu, president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, it would be prudent to stay under GCQ.

He is even open to the idea of the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine.

"Most are concerned with the rising cases, and increasing deaths. We feel that it is not worth it for us to take the risk and have the hospitals overflowing or overwhelmed before we take a more cautious stance," Yu said.

Yu said while it is important to keep businesses open, the purchasing power is down and some businesses cannot sustain operations as they can barely break even.

"Therefore, it does not necessarily follow that if you lift the quarantine, the job market will attain sustained rejuvenation. The point is, it cannot be a reason to disregard the rising cases and deaths because opening up means jobs," he said.

Testing

Cebu is one of the areas prioritized by the national government in the distribution of Covid-19 test kits, Dizon said in his visit here.

There are also plans to put up a "mega swab testing facility" in Cebu similar to the one established in Metro Manila where one facility caters to all Covid-19 patients brought in by various local government units there.

Dizon said their goal is to test around a million Filipinos before July 31.

Dizon said they will be conducting an Expanded Community Testing which will prioritize healthcare workers and other frontliners.

They will also conduct testing on all police officers, soldiers, members of the Coast Guard, firefighters, barangay tanods, contact tracing teams, mortuary and cemetery workers, social workers and facility volunteers.

The national government will shoulder the cost of the testing, Dizon added. / JJL,HBL/JKV, JOB