Mass gatherings ‘reason’ for rise in Covid-19 cases

·3 min read

THE recent spike in the number of coronavirus cases in Cebu City has been blamed on non-essential gatherings and activities.

This was revealed during a meeting of the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which was attended by Mayor Edgardo Labella and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020.

It seemed the new patients contracted the disease during eating and drinking sprees, at parties and team building activities and other activities that attract a crowd.

The EOC also pointed out that some members of the public have been complacent in complying with minimum health standards, while others have been presenting false documents at checkpoints. Monitoring of inbound and transient travelers has also been less stringent, it said.

City Councilor Joel Garganera, EOC deputy chief implementer, said the increase in Covid-19 cases can also be attributed to returning employees who underwent a Covid-19 test, as well as pregnant women who had given birth and were required to get tested before delivery.

This particular finding prompted the EOC to meet with operators of birthing centers to discuss measures that will ensure safety in their facilities.

Garganera clarified that the number of cases in the city “is not alarming,” but measures will need to be in place to prevent a resurgence.

He said that of the current cases, only one patient is intubated, 30 are in hospitals and the rest are either asymptomatic or have mild to moderate symptoms and have already been placed in isolation facilities.

City officials said Cebu City is “in a better position” to respond to the Covid-19 situation.

The mayor said the City is still up to meeting Cimatu’s challenge, which is to achieve “zero Covid-19 cases.”

Aside from launching Oplan Bulabog, Labella said they’ve reimplemented stricter border controls and the odd-even scheme for quarantine passes to control the number of people who are out on the streets.

Cimatu, for his part, said he believes the City Government has been properly handling the Covid-19 situation, but it has to review and revisit its measures and protocols from time to time.

“I am very happy to inform you that the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) Cebu managed to find out what caused it (increase of cases) and what actions they will undertake,” he said.

Meanwhile, Labella said he will issue a memorandum prohibiting all City Hall departments and offices from holding any team building activities, Christmas parties and other activities that will result in mass gathering.

He said employees who are caught holding gatherings will be asked to explain and they can even be held administratively liable if found to have violated protocols.

Photos of some City Hall employees holding a team building in a town in Cebu Province recently went the rounds on social media.

Bryan Lim, an infectious disease specialist in Cebu and the EOC’s consultant and adviser in the Multi-Sectoral Advisory Group, said the Covid-19 situation in the city is manageable. However, he discouraged any kind of gathering.

Based on the data of the Department of Health 7, Cebu City had 292 active cases as of Sunday, Nov. 15. (JJL)