Cebu City turns to ‘granular’ lockdowns to fight COVID-19
CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — Area-specific or granular lockdowns coupled with strict border monitoring will be implemented in this city as local officials noted a resurgence of cases of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“When you speak of granular lockdowns, it could only be a lockdown [involving a] street, it could only be a lockdown of a family [or] it could only be a lockdown of a sitio. So that depends on the situation,” said Mayor Edgardo Labella.
He said he found it more prudent to implement granular or neighborhood-level lockdowns to revive the local economy while ensuring the safety of the people.
Labella, however, had yet to release the total number of areas that would be placed under granular lockdown.
Police on Monday implemented strict border controls around Cebu City to limit the number of people going to the city.
The borders will be closed for those traveling for leisure and nonofficial businesses, while workers and front-liners can enter the city if they present proper documents.
On Monday, checkpoints set up in the city borders caused heavy traffic, according to Police Brig. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro, Central Visayas regional police director.
“Unlike in the past weeks, our police officers now have to really inspect every vehicle, whether private or public, going to the city,” he said.
In October, the number of new COVID-19 cases recorded in the city daily did not exceed nine, but health officials saw the figures rise starting last week, bringing the number of active cases to 292 as of Sunday, the Department of Health (DOH) said.
The city recorded 59 new infections on Saturday alone, followed by another 30 on Sunday.
Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief implementer of the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), said an average of 12.35 cases was recorded daily between Nov. 1 and Nov. 14.
He said the EOC noted more cases being logged daily than recoveries.
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson for the regional DOH, said it was too early to say that a second wave was happening in Cebu City.
The rise in cases, she said, indicated that COVID-19 is “still very much here with us and we need to fight it together.”
“We have a very active and proactive EOC. Our health-care facilities are better equipped and we have the testing capabilities with all the laboratories that are in place,” Loreche said.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who has been directed to oversee the government response to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Cebu, met with city officials on Monday to discuss measures to slow down the spread of the virus.
Cimatu stressed the need to strictly enforce and follow the health protocols.
“Some people in the city may have been too complacent already. I believe there is a need to remind them that the virus is still here. If the city government will continue implementing the health measures, I believe we can stop the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases,” he said.
On June 16, Cebu City was placed under enhanced community quarantine, 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.
It took about two months before the city was downgraded to modified general community quarantine, the most relaxed form of quarantine.
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