MANILA – Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella on Saturday said new quarantine passes in the city now contain QR codes aimed to limit movement of residents in an effort to curb the rising number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections in the area.
In an interview on ABS-CBN Teleradyo, Labella said that passes will be issued to one person per household and is non-transferable. The passes are number-coded, with the bearer allowed to go out of the house only on certain days.
“We divided them into 2 groups. 'Yung mga passes na ang QR code ng mga barangay ends in odd numbers makalabas lang sila Lunes, Miyerkoles and Biyernes. 'Yun namang quarantine pass na ang ending ng QR code number ay even, makalabas lang sila ng Martes, Huwebes at Sabado,” he said.
(Those with passes whose QR codes end in odd numbers can go out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Quarantine passes with QR codes ending in even numbers can go out on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.)
No one would be allowed to leave their homes on a Sunday, not even for the purpose of buying essential goods, unless it is an emergency situation, said Labella.
Earlier this week, local officials suspended quarantine passes given to 250,000 out of the city’s 1.1 million residents to stem further spread of the virus.
Labella admitted that they continue to struggle to bring down the level of COVID-19 infection in the city, particularly in very critical places such as informal settlers’ areas where houses are only separated by walls.
“This is a result of decades of neglect by former bureaucrats running the city. Hindi talaga natingnan ang housing program sa city kaya ngayon isa ito sa cause ng dumarami talaga,” he said.
(They did not focus on the housing program of the city that’s why it’s one of the causes of the spike now.)
He said he saw the problem when he assumed office and immediately started around 2 to 3 four-storey vertical housing projects prior to the pandemic, where he will transfer families currently living in “sub-human conditions.”
Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte placed Cebu City back under an enhanced community quarantine, limiting economic activity to utility services, food, water, and other essential sectors. Duterte also ordered Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, a former military chief, to oversee the quarantine of the city whose COVID-19 cases recently breached the 4,400-mark.
Labella hopes that minimum health protocols will be strictly imposed with the help of the military and police.
“Mabuti na lang kami rito ang aming mortality rate hindi ganung kadami nang nandyan sa Manila (It’s a good thing that our mortality rate is not as high as that of Manila) because of the kind of intervention that we had despite the number of positive cases,” he said.
He also attributed the city's high recovery rate to massive testing, contact tracing, isolation and treatment.
“I think we were one of the few local governments as early as last week of March nag-massive testing na kami. We have tested more than 25,000 because we were able to purchase PCR machines and 30,000 swab kits,” he said.
Asymptomatic residents are placed in 52 barangay isolation centers which have a total 4,000 bed capacity.
“As of now, 1,000 pa lang ang na-occupy. The mild, moderate cases mayroon kaming itinayo na quarantine centers, hindi pa napupuno,” he said.
(As of now, 1,000 are occupied. For mild, moderate cases, we have quarantine centers, they are not full.)
He underscored the importance of the referral system to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.