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DOH-7 wants Cebu City to be under GCQ but…

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | June 29,2020 - 07:14 PM
Metro Cebu skyline. | CDN Digital file photo

Metro Cebu skyline. | CDN Digital file photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH – 7) is planning to recommend before the national anti-coronavirus task force to downgrade Cebu City’s status to a general community quarantine (GCQ) beyond June 30.

“Our recommendation is the same we had before, and that is to place Cebu City under GCQ after June 30 but with sequential locking and unlocking,”  said Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson of DOH-7, in a teleconference with reporters on Monday, June 29.

However, Loreche said they had not submitted their official position before the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF – MEID).

“There’s no official recommendation made yet, but if asked, we will be submitting it along with the mechanism on how to do the sequential locking and unlocking of areas,” she added.

Loreche is referring to the outcome produced by the strategized community testing done in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu last May.

Called as the Project Balik Buhay, the study, according to DOH – 7, provided epidemiologists and local government officials a ‘prevalence map’ on how widespread COVID-19 cases are.

In turn, the map serves as basis for epidemiologists to come up with guidelines for local governments on how to lock or unlock a community hit by COVID-19.

The initiative, however, has received wide criticisms especially on using rapid anti-body test kits to detect COVID-19 infection on individuals not qualified for the standard real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests.

READ MORE: Mass testing results: Experts say more ‘responded well’ to coronavirus

“Together with the business community, we find putting the entire Cebu City under lockdown is not the solution. Our solution would be imposing lockdowns on areas with the most number of cases,” said Loreche in Cebuano.

“These are also found in DOH’s guidelines to put a certain sitio under lockdown when at least three individuals are confirmed by RT-PCR tests to have been infected,” she added.

ECQ in Cebu City 

Last June 16, the IATF-MEID decided to revert Cebu City back to the strictest form of community quarantine due to the high case doubling rate and the need for critical care among patients with severe to critical cases.

DOH-7, on the other hand, noted that reimposing ECQ in Cebu City helped in controlling the transmission of the virus that has already infected close to 5,000 individuals here as of June 28.

“We need to be on ECQ in order to act swiftly in controlling the transmission,” said Loreche said.

“We would also like to stress that if the public won’t be cooperating, (the outbreak here in Cebu City) could get uncontrollable,” she said.

It can also be recalled that the IATF-MEID is planning to implement hard lockdowns in at least 12 barangays in Cebu City which have the highest number of active COVID-19 cases.

These are Barangays Sambag I, Guadalupe, Kamputhaw, Lahug, Basak San Nicolas, Mabolo, Tisa, Sambag II, Pardo, Tinago, Labangon, and Capitol-Site. /dbs

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