MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte should keep Cebu City under the strictest lockdown level to contain the increasing cases of the new coronavirus disease in the city, his designated pandemic response leader there said Tuesday.
Duterte from June 16 placed the urban center under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) which limits economic activity to utility services, food, water and other essential sectors.
"We have to maintain pa rin itong quarantine level here. My recommendation is that kailangan, per se, to stop the bleeding," Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu told ANC.
Cebu City has the highest COVID-19 tally in the country, with 4,639 cases as of Monday. Of this figure, 987 were tallied in the last 14 days, according to the health department.
The city on Monday also tallied 13 deaths due to the respiratory disease, its highest single-day COVID-19 fatality count. The national fatality rate is at 10 to 12 deaths per day, said Cimatu.
He said he would also keep the "hard lockdown" of 12 barangays in Cebu City with the most COVID-19 cases unless they show "dramatic improvement."
WHY DID CASES SPIKE?
Cases in Cebu City spiked 2 weeks ago when the lockdown in other areas eased and repatriated migrant workers and locally stranded individuals were allowed to return to their provinces. These travelers used Cebu as a "transit area", said Cimatu.
COVID-19 also spread in some of barangay isolation facilities. Their operations will be stopped and their patients will be transferred to quarantine centers, said Cimatu.
Many residents also violated quarantine protocols, he said. Additional police and soldiers were deployed to Cebu City to help man checkpoints and prevent residents with no official business from going out of their homes, he said.
"The intention naman talaga is actually not a show of force... Because of what we have done dito sa lockdown, I'm expecting na ma-reduce na, ma-stop the bleeding na ito," he said.
(The intention really is not actually not a show of force. Because of what we have done here in the lockdown, I'm expecting that we will reduce, stop this bleeding.)
MORE HEALTH WORKERS, QUARANTINE SITES
Thirty-two military doctors and some 40 doctors who volunteered for assignment in rural areas were also transferred to Cebu City to help its healthcare system fight the virus, Cimatu said.
Private hospitals require their personnel to go on 2-week quarantine after every week on duty, which reduces the workforce, he said.
"Kulang talaga because nagro-rotation sila, overworked naman sila, overburdened," he said.
(There really is a shortage of personnel because they are on rotaion. They are overworked, overburdened.)
The health department will hire more medical frontliners for the city. said Cimatu. He said he was also talking to the business sector about providing hazard pay to nurses, the lack of which "demoralizes" them.
The city will also increase hospital rooms and quarantine sites for COVID-19 patients and replicate Metro Manila's conversion of coliseums into isolation facilities, he said.
"Sabi ng mayor dito (the mayor here said), they have the money," he said.