MANILA - The COVID-19 surge in Zamboanga City can be attributed to residents who continue to deny the existence of the virus, despite its spread in the country more than a year ago, an official from its virus response task force said Wednesday.
In an interview on ANC, lawyer Kenneth Beldua, spokesperson of Zamboanga City Task Force COVID-19, said residents there "simply ignore the public health menace."
"We have to treat the recent surge of cases to these residents in our city who believe that COVID does not exist... [They] continue going about with their day," Beldua said.
He said COVID-19 misinformation is perpetuated in social media, with some netizens who comment on the city government's Facebook page supposedly downplaying the number of those who contracted the disease.
"Some of the people, even the netizens, if you would see... would think that all these numbers are fabricated," he said.
"I believe that a part of the reason could be the fatigue that has been experienced by our residents here because our restrictions have been going on for almost over a year," according to the official.
As of Tuesday, the city has so far confirmed 9,595 COVID-19 cases, of which 2,457 are considered active.
The respiratory disease claimed 375 lives in the city.
Zamboanga city was placed under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), the second strictest quarantine status, last May 8 until "such time the cases subside."
Beldua hopes the residents would take the COVID-19 threat seriously and be "disciplined" to slow down the virus growth.
He said authorities launched a COVID-19 education campaign to counter misinformation.
They are also responding to the surge by strengthening their contact tracing system and building more isolation facilities, among other things.
"We believe that despite this state of denial of some of the people which caused the recent surges of infections in different areas of the city... we are still able to address the problem with the construction of our isolation facilities, with the improvement of our contact tracing," he said.
The Philippines has so far tallied 1.188 million COVID-19 cases, more than 48,000 of which are active.