Tighter restrictions ruled out despite rise in cases

·3 min read

CEBU City Mayor Edgardo Labella and Central Visayas Police Regional Office (PRO 7) Director Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo are not inclined to recommend tighter measures against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) despite the rising infections.

Labella, in a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, also said he does not want to place any of the 80 barangays of Cebu City under lockdown.

The Department of Health in Central Visayas reported 97 new cases in Cebu City on Wednesday, pushing the number of active cases to 1,051 and the city’s total case count to 12,116.

This was the second time in just five days that Cebu City posted 97 new cases. The first was on Jan. 23. Cebu City also recorded 81 new cases on Jan. 24, 70 on Jan. 25 and 88 on Jan. 26.

Nationwide, Cebu City posted the highest number of verified cases for the second straight day on Wednesday.

Five business groups, meanwhile, described the rise in cases as alarming, and appealed for vigilance and self-regulation in anticipation of family reunions during the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day celebrations.

The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu, Cebu Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Philippine Retailers Association Cebu Chapter warned against another tipping point that would force stakeholders to choose between health and the economy.

With the reported cases of new Sars-CoV-2 variants in the country, the business groups said Cebuanos should be “circumspect in their plans and actions.”

“We appeal to those going to parties and gatherings to be mindful that asymptomatics are usually the spreaders who can infect the elderly and those with comorbidities. While we are all responsible for our health, safety and our lives, we also have a responsibility to others,” their joint statement read.

Despite the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in Cebu City, Labella said he saw no compelling reason to revert to general community quarantine (GCQ).

Cebu City is under modified GCQ, the least restrictive form of community quarantine, until the end of January.

“I don’t see any reason yet to go back to GCQ,” Labella said.

He noted that although Cebu City is under MGCQ, restrictions are still in place like the use of quarantine passes and prohibition of mass gatherings. Only persons from 15 to 65 years old and those who are authorized may venture out of their homes.

Labella said he will consider the suggestion of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) to lengthen curfew hours, beginning at 10 p.m. instead of 11 p.m.

However, he said he still has to consult the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, whose members would be affected by any adjustment.

Labella also reminded the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to ensure that health protocols, especially social distancing, are observed even in the holding area for quarantine violators.

Montejo, for his part, said he will not make any recommendation to the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF) to place Cebu City under lockdown again.

“I think placing Cebu City under lockdown is not advisable because the situation is still manageable,” he said.

He said the EOC is right to place affected households on lockdown instead and transfer coronavirus-positive individuals to isolation facilities.

A lockdown would adversely impact the economy and could deplete the local government’s social amelioration funds, he added.

To prevent Covid-19 transmission, he urged the public to comply with the minimum public health standards, such as wearing of face masks and face shields, physical distancing, and frequent hand washing.

For the second straight day on Wednesday, Cebu City posted the highest cases of infection among cities and provinces nationwide. (JJL / AYB / JOB)