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Virus spread slows down in Cebu City

DOH exec says reimposition of strict lockdown, Cebuanos’ compliance with health protocols key to managing infection rate
By: - Senior Reporter / @inquirervisayas
/ 04:17 AM August 19, 2020

CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — Once considered a coronavirus hot spot in the country, Cebu City managed to slow down the transmission of the highly contagious respiratory disease, according to health officials.

From seven days in June, it now takes an average of 90 days for the number of COVID-19 cases to double in the city, said Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson for the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas.

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The critical care utilization rate, which refers to the proportion of beds and ventilators being used in hospitals, has gone down to less than 30 percent in the last two weeks, from 72 percent in July and 89 percent in June.

Lowest record

The positivity rate, or percentage of people who test positive for the virus, also decreased to 4.1 percent on Aug. 15 compared to 9.7 percent on July 15 and 30.2 percent on June 15.On Monday, Cebu City recorded just seven new cases of COVID-19, way lower than the 150 to 200 cases it registered daily in early June.

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As of Aug. 17, it had recorded 9,390 cases, with 1,389 considered active. It posted 7,379 recoveries and 622 deaths, the DOH said.

Loreche said the city could be ready to transition into a more relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ). “But retaining the GCQ (general community quarantine) in the next 14 days (or until Aug. 31) will do us even better,” she said.

Loreche attributed the development to the reimposition of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) status in the city on June 16, as well as to the people’s compliance with health safeguards to contain the spread of the virus.“As reflected in our number of cases, we are somehow correct in where we are and what we are doing. We get to see the impact of the measures we are putting in place now,” Loreche said.

She clarified that the curve of infection rate had yet to be flattened and urged Cebuanos to continue following health protocols, such as staying indoors, wearing face masks and practicing physical distancing.

“I hope it (lower number of cases) will continue to be like that. I hope we are able to control the transmission of the virus,” Loreche said.

SAF commandos

On June 16, Cebu City was placed under ECQ, the strictest form of lockdown, due to a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, as well as its problem of providing critical health-care assistance to patients.

This prompted the Philippine National Police to send 160 commandos of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) and more policemen from other regions to Cebu City to strictly enforce health measures and ensure that people stay indoors, unless they have essential things to do.

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On track

It took a month before the city’s status was downgraded to a slightly relaxed modified ECQ, which allowed the reopening of shopping malls and select manufacturing and processing plants up to half of their full capacity.

On Aug. 1, Cebu City was further downgraded to GCQ, which led to the resumption of more businesses operations and public transportation.

Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the creation of more cluster clinics, barangay isolation centers and quarantine facilities, as well as the deployment of contact tracing teams and widespread testing contributed to the improvement of the situation in Cebu City.

Loreche said the city’s high recovery rate, which stands at more than 50 percent, was a good indication that the local government was on track in its fight against COVID-19. INQ

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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