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Cimatu starts tour of duty in virus hot spot Cebu City

CEBU CITY—Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has yet to lay down what actions he planned to take as the President’s eyes and ears on COVID-19  in this city.

Cimatu, who was appointed COVID-19 point person in Cebu by President Rodrigo Duterte, arrived in the Queen City of the South on Tuesday (June 23) and will stay here in the coming days.

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At an online press conference, Cimatu said he would consult with city authorities to know the situation on the ground.

He will also visit villages with a surge in COVID-19 cases.

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In the meantime, Cimatu said there would be no “hard lockdown” of the city.

“I hope we will not resort to a forceful implementation of the quarantine rules,” he said.

In a televised address to the nation last Monday (June 22)  evening Duterte called out Cebuanos for not heeding health protocols aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

He said Cebuanos were to blame for the continued increase in COVID-19 cases, saying people here were “hard-headed” and “too complacent.”

Cimatu, however, said he still believed that city residents who are willing to heed quarantine rules outnumber those who would defy the rules.

On whether the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) status of Cebu City will be extended after June 30, he said it would all depend on developments in the coming days.

Upon his arrival in Cebu, Cimatu immediately got down to business and met behind closed doors with local officials, including Mayor Edgardo Labella, Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony Gullas, Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia and Michael Dino, presidential adviser for the Visayas.

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Cimatu was with Health Secretay Fransisco Duque and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, among other officials.

Labella and Garcia said they welcomed the appointment of Cimatu as the point person for COVID-19 response here.

Labella said he could not question the wisdom of Duterte and that he was happy to know that the country’s chief executive was concerned about the city situation.

The mayor, however, again sought to emphasize numbers that he said cast the city in a good light—a recovery rate of 50 percent, the highest in the country, and a fatality rate of just 1.08 percent.

Garcia said Cimatu’s presence would be a venue for her to present the real situation in Cebu province, which is separate from the city.

As of 4 p.m. on June 23,  the entire island of Cebu has 6,069 cases of COVID-19—4,479 in Cebu City,  627 in Mandaue City, 303 in Lapu-Lapu City, and 635 in Cebu province.

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