Cebu City mayor: 95 percent of city's COVID-19 patients asymptomatic

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 19 2020 02:15 PM | Updated as of May 19 2020 04:12 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella on Tuesday said 95 percent of the city’s positive COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, as he assured the public that they have been isolated. 

“As of yesterday, [we have recorded] 1,749 positive cases, but 95 percent are asymptomatic,” Labella said during the Laging Handa virtual press briefing.

Labella said the local government has placed the patients in barangay isolation centers.

“Sila ang medyo delikado. They don’t have the symptoms, walang lagnat, walang ubo and they go around so we isolate them,” he said.

(They are quite the risky ones. They don't have the symptoms, no fever, no cough, and they go around so we isolate them.)

The mayor attributed the increase in positive cases of COVID-19 to the strategic mass testing currently being conducted together with the cities of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue.

The city has so far tested more than 10,000 individuals, he said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, meanwhile, said the figures released by the city government should be validated. 

"We need to verify the numbers that Mayor Labella has stated in this article. The statement from WHO (World Health Organization) that until now there are still no evidence to show that asymptomatic transmission is occurring in the community," said Vergeire when sought for comment. 

The tri-city of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu is implementing a “Balik Buhay Project” assisted by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Visayas to determine the prevalence rate of COVID-19 in their areas.

“Minabuti ng tatlong city na magkaroon ng strategic mass testing and that is the reason why tumataas pa rin 'yung cases of COVID in our area of the tri-city because of the mass testing," said OPAV’s Assistant Secretary Jonji Gonzales.

(The three cities thought it best to have strategic mass testing and this is the reason why the number of cases in the tri-city area increased.) 

Gonzales said 46,000 households will undergo testing, or equivalent to 10 percent of the households in the tri-city. 

Meanwhile, Labella gave credit to their health intervention that has resulted in the city’s lowest rate of mortality for COVID-19.
 
“Looking into the statistics, ang ating (our) death rate as of yesterday is only 0.91 percent kasi (because) we are constantly making testing, tracing and isolation of our patients,” he said.

Data by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group showed that as of May 18, Cebu City had 1,552 total confirmed cases, 15 deaths, and 25 recoveries. 

These include 1,436 mild cases, 73 asymptomatic patients, and 3 severe cases. ABS-CBN IRC data also pegged the death rate at 0.97 percent.

Cebu City and Mandaue City were placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until May 31, the only two places under strictest lockdown. 

It was initially listed among places to shift to a modified ECQ on May 15, but government decided to keep it under stringent lockdown following appeals of local government officials. 

“We’re still on enhanced community quarantine because we believe na importante and buhay. But after we shall have attained the 10 percent threshold in our joint undertaking with the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, I think we can make the proper evaluation and adjustment,” he said.

- with a report from Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News