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Cebu gov questions researchers’ ‘bias’ in declaring Covid areas of concern

/ 06:49 PM January 30, 2021

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia answers queries from the media regarding a report from the OCTA research group which sounds the alarm as Cebu’s Covid-19 cases are again increasing. (DALE ISRAEL/INQUIRER VISAYAS)

CEBU CITY — Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia has questioned researchers studying the coronavirus pandemic in the country why it singled out Cebu as an “area of concern” in the fight against the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In a late afternoon press conference on Friday, Garcia presented data which showed that Cebu province has not registered the highest number of new Covid-19 infections.

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Out of the 45,892 new Covid-19 cases in the Philippines from January 1 to 28, Cebu province only contributed 767 new cases compared to Quezon City’s 1,971 and Davao City’s 2,618.

Garcia also pointed out that Baguio City had 1,115 new cases in the same period and with a population of only 372,791. Cebu province, on the other hand, has a population of 3.2 million and the new infections were only 767 cases.

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Cebu City, which is separate from Cebu Province, had 1,380 new cases from January 1 to 28 and with a population of 1 million.

“So why are we singled out? Yes granting that there is a rise, you need to analyze the numbers first–the data,” Garcia said.

“These areas have far more cases and higher percentages than Cebu. But why only Cebu has highlighted?,” she added.

Garcia described those who said they are “concerned for Cebu” as having an “obsession” without the proper context.

She reiterated that there is no need “to show concern” for Cebu as the cases here are being managed well with programs that are already in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic even if the local economy was reopened.

Garcia said basic health protocols have been observed while programs to boost the immune system are being implemented like the handing out of free vitamins for front-line government workers, among others.

The healthcare facilities are also not overwhelmed even if all Covid-19 positives are extracted from their homes. She said that there is only a 20 percent occupancy rate for all isolation centers for the province’s 44 towns and six cities.

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Experts from the OCTA research group on Thursday sounded the alarm as Cebu’s Covid-19 cases are again increasing.

The group said Cebu province and the independent cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu could see the numbers hit 400 a day if local governments don’t do something quick to contain the spread of the virus.

They said the last time Cebu was placed under enhanced community quarantine, the island averaged 400 new cases per day.

“This number could be reached in two weeks if trends are not reversed. The concern right now is the possibility that the UK B.1.17 variant is spreading in parts of Cebu,” they said.

The experts, composed of professors from the University of the Philippines with the help of the University of Santo Tomas and Providence College in the United States, said Cebu averaged 147 cases a day over the past seven days compared to December 11 to 17 when Cebu averaged only 11 cases per day.

Cebu’s reproduction number, which is the average number of people one Covid-19 positive person can infect, is higher than the national average. The island is at 1.57 while the national average is at .96.

JPV

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TAGS: Cebu, Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia, Coronavirus, COVID-19
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