Cebu ramps up measures vs COVID-19 spread

Joworski Alipon, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 25 2020 03:22 PM

CEBU CITY - The local government of Cebu has welcomed the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to include the province among areas where the enhanced community quarantine will be extended until May 15.

But even before Duterte's announcement on Friday, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella has already decided to extend the ECQ until mid-May from the supposed end date on April 28. He said they would need time to impose stricter measures to contain the spread of the virus in the city.

The lone symptomatic case was first recorded at Sitio Zapatera, Barangay Luz on April 12. But the number of those infected from the said sitio increased, prompting the city government to impose a total lockdown in the entire village.

Most of those who tested positive would have to wait until quarantine facilities are prepared for their transfer and further treatment.

Other Cebu City villages also reported COVID-19 cases in their areas. Cases were also reported in the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.

STRICTER MEASURES

The entire province has been implementing stricter measures to curb the spread of the highly contagious disease.

In an executive order, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia delisted other essential workers from those exempted to enter the province. Delisted workers include employees working at grocery stores, supermarkets, eateries, food chains, drug stores, BPOs, and construction firms. Employers are now required to provide for their temporary accommodation in the city.

Carlo Suarez, president of the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu, said this arrangement is of great help in maintaining a higher occupancy rate in the city's hotels despite the absence of local and foreign tourists.

The lockdown has taken a toll on the survival of small and medium enterprises, which were forced to limit or temporarily close down due to the pandemic.

Businesswoman Faith Chiong has to make up for lost sales. She was at the brink of deciding to temporarily halt operations but was moved by the plight of her employees.

Despite her losses, Chiong provided a staff house for her workers so they could continue working.

For her part, Gov. Garcia said the ECQ extension is necessary to ramp up efforts to protect Cebu's towns and component cities.

As of April 24, the local health department has recorded 3 COVID-19 cases in the province, excluding the three highly-urbanized cities in Metro Cebu.

Garcia expects that targeted mass testing may be conducted soon in many local government units. This would help local officials in determining which areas can gradually restart economic activities.