Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu seek extended ECQ to complete mass testing
CEBU CITY – The mayors of the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu have appealed to the national government to extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the three localities until they complete their mass testing.
In a joint statement released on Tuesday evening, Mayors Edgardo Labella of Cebu City, Jonas Cortes of Mandaue City, and Junard Chan of Lapu-Lapu City said they formally asked the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to continuously impose the ECQ in the three cities.
“The most effective way to flatten the curve is to test, trace, and treat. We are still in the early stages of testing and tracing, and we maintain our stand from day one that until and unless our constituents are tested, we should not ease the restrictions,” they said.
On Tuesday morning, Malacañang announced that the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu could shift from ECQ to general community quarantine (GCQ) starting May 16 since they were among the “moderate risk” areas for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Cebu City, however, will be under “modified” ECQ from May 16 to 31, joining Metro Manila and Laguna which are considered “high-risk” areas for COVID-19.
While Cortes and Chan welcomed the decision to put the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu under GCQ, they said they could not simply ignore the reality that it is still not safe to proceed with the GCQ since a greater part of the two cities have not been tested for COVID-19.
Last May 6, the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu commenced the strategic and calibrated testing of at least 10 percent of their population.
The aim was to simply get a clearer picture of the actual COVID-19 prevalence in their respective jurisdictions so as to come up with protocols to ensure that the possibility of a second wave of infections would be minimal if not totally averted.
“To shift to GCQ would be easier on the part of the government. However, our moral obligation entails that we have to make the difficult decisions to ascertain the majority of our constituents remain healthy and COVID free,” said Labella, Cortes, and Chan.
“We understand the clamor of the people to ease the restrictions, as this would mean a semblance of normalcy. But it would not be logical considering that based on the initial estimation, approximately 90 percent of the cases in our region are asymptomatic. We likewise understand the importance to start up the economy but this should not be at the expense of the health and safety of our people. We cannot look our constituents in the eye and give the guarantee that it would be safe for them to go out,” they added.
The three mayors appealed to their constituents to get tested as this is the way of assessing the whole situation.
“The end in sight is on the horizon. We just wanted to ensure that it would be safe for our people once we are ready to migrate to GCQ,” they said.
“We expect that the national IATF-EID will acquiesce to our appeal since we have nothing but the best interest of our people in mind,” they added.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, for her part, supported the decision to put Cebu province from ECQ to GCQ.
Despite the shift to GCQ, she said strict border control with Cebu City would still be enforced considering the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the Queen City of the South.
Data from the Department of Health showed that the entire island of Cebu has 1,930 COVID-19 cases as of May 12–1,695 in Cebu City, 111 in Mandaue City, 48 in Lapu-Lapu City, and 54 in Cebu province.
Eighteen overseas Filipino workers who recently arrived in Cebu as well as four health workers also tested positive for the COVID-19.
The health department doesn’t indicate the town or city these OFWs and health workers were from hence they were placed under a different category.
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