Delays in reporting data partly to blame for COVID-19 spike in Cebu, says health expert


Posted at Jun 27 2020 09:25 PM

A police officer mans a checkpoint along a road in Cebu City, central Philippines on June 24, 2020, after the government tightened its enhanced community quarantine restrictions as COVID-19 infections increase. Alex Badayos, AFP

MANILA—Delayed reporting of data could have aggravated the COVID-19 situation in Cebu, a public health expert said Saturday, as the province continues to battle surging infection.

Speaking to Teleradyo, Dr. Tony Leachon said local leaders could have made sound decisions with real-time data, preventing the virus from circulating widely.

“Hindi na kailangan maghintay ng 2 weeks na paghigpitan ang tao na lumabas,” he said.

Leachon is a former adviser to the government task force on COVID-19, but was let go due to his “preemptive” releases of information.

When he and other officials visited Cebu in June, he said they only learned that the health system there was already stretched thin.

“Hindi kailangan na pumunta pa kami diyan o nag-field work pa kami to understand the real situation because on the ground puwedeng i-report ng Region 7 to the main office,” Leachon said.

He was told by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who has been tasked to oversee the government’s pandemic response in Cebu, that there were differences in data.

“Sabi ni Secretary Cimatu, iba ’yung data na nakukuha niya sa barangay kaysa do'n sa regional office ng DOH. Sinabi niya ’yan,” Leachon said.

He also said lockdown flouters should not be solely blamed in the spike of infections.

“I don’t think hindi maintindihan ng mga Cebuano na sumunod sa batas. Kasi they are well-educated, English-speaking nga sila ’pag ka nandito sa mga convention namin,” Leachon said.

Data from the DOH as of June 26 showed Cebu has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country with 4,417, while Cebu province ranked fourth with 974 cases.

Cebu City also recorded the most number of new cases in the last 14 days with 1,082. It is followed by Cebu Province with 415 while Mandaue City ranked fifth with 236.

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