Gwen: Still too early to decide on lifting of ECQ

Protocols in living 'new normal' after ECQ will need to be set first

By: Rosalie Abatayo - Reporter/CDN Digital | April 06,2020 - 08:06 PM
Skyscrapers in Cebu City tower over the almost empty streets due to the city and the province's lockdown, which the governor says she has no date for the lifting of the ECQ because it will depend on the progress of the COVID-19 cases in Luzon. CDN Digital photo | Brian J. Ochoa

Skyscrapers in Cebu City tower over the almost empty streets due to the city and the province’s lockdown, which the governor says she has no date for the lifting of the ECQ because it will depend on the progress of the COVID-19 cases in Luzon. CDN Digital photo | Brian J. Ochoa

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Even when the pandemic and the subsequent enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) will be over, things may no longer go back to the way they were.

So said Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia on Monday, April 6, 2020, as the province marked its first week into the ECQ implementation due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Garcia, when asked until when the ECQ may last, said she still could not estimate a date as several factors would need to be considered.

Garcia’s Executive Order No. 5-O, which placed the entire province under ECQ effective March 30, 2020 because of the coronavirus crisis in the Philippines, does not indicate an expiration date of the measure that the governor has often referred to as a “lockdown.”

Read more: VisMin LGUs, DoH can decide to lift or extend ECQ

“I did not want to give false hopes to the Cebuanos. I did not want them to look at a particular date. It would be like a promise that I may not be able to keep and so I have to let that be open,” Garcia said.

Read more: PRO-7 chief: We are ready if ECQ is extended in Cebu

Garcia said the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) have informed her that as of Monday afternoon, April 6, the number of cases in the entire Cebu province, including the independent cities of Cebu and Lapu-Lapu, remain at 30.

The statistics include 22 from Cebu City, 3 from Lapu-Lapu City, 3 from Cebu province, and 2 from Mandaue City.

Read more: COVID-19 cases in PH now at 3,660; death toll at 163

Garcia said that 54 samples from the province were the most recent batch tested by the subnational laboratory of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC).

None of the samples, which included 21 from Cebu province, 18 from Cebu City, 8 from Lapu-Lapu City, and 7 from Mandaue City, returned positive.

Read more: Doctor in Cebu City recovers from COVID-19

“This is encouraging but let us not be complacent. Let us be even more vigilant. Let us show that we can do this the Cebuano way. The Cebuano way is to join hands and help each other,” Garcia said.

Garcia added that the move to lift the ECQ in Cebu would also be determined by how the COVID-19 situation in Metro Manila, which is tagged as the “epicenter” of the virus in the country, would progress.

Read more: Duterte may decide on Luzon quarantine extension by April 12-14 — Galvez

“We really hope and pray that the Manila or Luzon situation will soon improve, and that they will soon flatten the curve. Unless that is achieved, we cannot even estimate a date when our own ECQ will be lifted,” Garcia said.

Garcia said that part of the preparation before the ECQ would be lifted would also be to set new protocols that would guide the community in living the “new normal” after the ECQ and the pandemic.

“We will also need to be able to come up with a strict protocol on the new normal. What do I mean? That even though we would have lifted the ECQ, things cannot go back to the way it was,” Garcia said.

In the new normal, the governor said everyone must learn to adapt to new ways of living as a community.

“We will have to adjust to the new normal which will be guided by protocols on socializing, on gatherings, on ceremonies and other activities that used to define us as a community,” Garcia said./dbs

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TAGS: 'enhanced community quarantine', Cebu‬, Cebu province, Coronavirus Disease 2019, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, ECQ, governor, Gwendolyn Garcia

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