Mayor Edgar Labella tried to pacify his constituents today after the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) suspended all quarantine passes in Cebu City, shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte castigated its residents for allegedly ignoring the threat posed by COVID-19.
Labella said the passes were suspended after a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases, which oversees the Philippines’ coronavirus response, went around the city and saw Cebuanos outside of their homes despite the ongoing enhanced community quarantine, the strictest form of lockdown.
A quarantine pass is a document that allows a person to leave his home so he could purchase food and other essentials. By cancelling it, Cebuanos will have a difficult time buying necessary goods.
“This drastic measure was put in place after an IATF team went around the city today and still found many people outside of their homes. I’m sure, many questions arise as to what this means. I ask for your calm and understanding as we work out the details in coordination with the DILG and national agencies,” Labella said.
“Be assured that authorized persons outside residences (APOR) and other essential individuals will still be allowed to go out [of their homes]. The city government will continue to help the villages. We are continuously coordinating with them. Please support your local officials,” the mayor added.
He said quarantine passes will be issued soon and residents will be informed on how they could get new ones.
“I know this is a difficult time for everyone. What we can do at this time is [to] stay calm and informed. I urge everyone to work with us so that we can win this war against COVID-19 immediately,” Labella said.
Duterte castigated Cebuanos in a publicly broadcast speech earlier this week and said that their “complacency” led to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the entire island. He said this after University of the Philippines researchers warned that the number of infected residents in Cebu province could balloon up to 11,000 by June 30. The conclusion was based on the island’s reproduction number (R0) of 1.96, higher than Metro Manila’s, which stands between .96 and 1.19.
The (R0) is the expected number of people that one COVID-19 patient can infect in a susceptible population. This means that in Cebu, one patient can infect up to two people, a scenario that makes the province the new COVID-19 hotspot in the country after Metro Manila.
There are currently 3,645 active COVID-19 cases in Cebu City, the highest in the Philippines. Meanwhile, there are 890 active cases in the rest of Cebu province, the fourth highest in the country.
This article, Mayor Labella asks Cebuanos to remain ‘calm’ after all quarantine passes canceled, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!