Cebu province reels from independent Cebu city's COVID-19 surge

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 24 2020 03:50 PM

People line up at cargo and cash sending centers during the COVID-19 pandemic in Cebu City on June 16, 2020. Cheryl Baldicantos, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—As Cebu City struggles to contain its rising number of COVID-19 cases, the rest of the province is waging another battle to correct misimpressions that the health crisis is just as bad there. 

As of Tuesday, the city had 4,160 confirmed infections, while the province recorded a much lower number of 883 — a distinction Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia said should be made clear.

“It’s just the impression that (people) can’t differentiate,” she told ABS-CBN News, shortly before President Rodrigo Duterte tapped Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to help fix the situation in Cebu City.

Lumping Cebu City, which is administered independently, together with the province in terms of COVID-19 cases will have an impact on efforts to revive a local economy brought to its knees by a long coronavirus lockdown, she said.

Garcia said businesses were now trying to get back on their feet as the province shifted to a less stringent general community quarantine.

Cebu’s bustling tourism industry particularly took a beating with the pandemic halting international and domestic travel and shutting down resorts.

“The economy here, we can’t take more of this,” she said. “There are too many people with no jobs. How much more can the people take?”

Many of them are also based in Cebu City and may have to wait much longer after the area was again placed under an enhanced community quarantine.

“I really, really hope and wish that Cebu City will be able to graduate to GCQ,” said Garcia, adding that this would boost the province’s appeal for further easing of quarantine restrictions.

The ECQ is the highest in the Philippines' 4-step quarantine classification, followed by modified ECQ, general community quarantine or GCQ and modified GCQ.

In the meantime, the province has begun strict border control to prevent a spillover of cases, particularly from Cebu City, which experts said could be the next coronavirus epicenter after Metro Manila.

Garcia said the public should also focus on the number of recoveries, not just the daily rise in confirmed cases.

Of the total confirmed cases in Cebu City, 3,779 were considered “active,” according to official Department of Health Data.

In Cebu province, the number of active cases were fewer by 53 from the total number of reported cases.

“I really believe na medyo skewed yung impression natin,” Garcia said.

(I really believe that the impression is a bit skewed.)

The increase in cases in Cebu City can be attributed to “complacency” and “ineptitude,” said Dr. Tony Leachon, a former adviser to the government task force on COVID-19.

“People know that they should be doing this but they are doing otherwise,” he said.