Cebuanos hardheaded? 'Other factors' led to COVID-19 spike in Cebu City: mayor

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 02 2020 09:21 AM

A policeman mans a checkpoint along a road in Cebu City, central Philippines on June 24, 2020, after the government tightened its enhanced community quarantine restrictions amidst rising cases of COVID-19 infections in the city. Alex Badayos, AFP

MANILA — Several factors fueled the increase of coronavirus cases in Cebu City, its mayor said Thursday, after President Rodrigo Duterte called residents there hardheaded and complacent.

Illegal settlements in Barangays Luz and Mambaling accounted for a huge chunk of Cebu City's over 4,700 cases of COVID-19. Houses in these areas are only "separated by a wall", making social distancing protocols hard to enforce, said Mayor Edgardo Labella.

Cebu City's mass testing since March also encountered problems with the release of test results, which initially took 2 to 3 weeks, he said.

"Those found positive — because their results had not yet been released — were going out of the house," he told ANC.

"Aside from the observation... [that residents are] 'hardheaded', there are also other factors," he added.

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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. He announced Tuesday that the city will remain under ECQ, the strictest of 4 lockdown levels, until July 15.

Additional policemen and soldiers deployed to Cebu have helped "implement more strictly the disciplinary measures," said Labella.
Cebu City can also now run about 1,000 coronavirus tests a day, with results out within 48 hours, he said.

Authorities also formed 80 teams with 6 members each, who will trace individuals that had close contact with coronavirus patients, the mayor said.

Labella also said about half of the city's COVID-19 patients had recovered.

Parts of 12 barangays with the most cases are under "segmental lockdown," he said.

The city is accepting repatriated migrant workers, who are required to go through nasal swab tests upon arrival at the airport. However, the urban center is temporarily closed to travelers who were stranded by the lockdown in other parts of the country, Labella said.