Cebu City exec: MECQ ‘ayuda’ needed
CEBU CITY—The city government here is asking help from the national government to aid affected residents as the national pandemic task force escalated the lockdown status of this Visayan economic center and the province of Cebu after nearly a third of the more virulent Delta variant cases in the country were recorded on Cebu Island.
According to Department of Health (DOH) Central Visayas Director Jaime Bernadas, there might already be a local transmission of the Delta variant in Cebu but health officials need to validate it first.
Acting Mayor Michael Rama said he respected the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF) to place Cebu City under modified enhanced community quarantine from Aug. 1 to Aug. 15 but he would not order the closure of establishments or suspend public transport unless an “ayuda” (aid) would be provided for displaced residents.
“We just don’t want to close the economy without giving any assistance to those affected by closures. We first have to know if the national government will distribute cash aids to the Cebuanos,” Rama said on Friday.
He said the city had no plans to ask the IATF to reconsider the city’s quarantine status.
“I do not want to appeal now. If there will be an appeal, it should be an island appeal. Cebu City cannot just appeal on its own. We are part of the island. We have the same orientation. We will appeal as one island,” he said.
Rama said he would also implement the “parental supervised household lockdown” where parents will monitor their children and not allow them to go out of their house.
“If you remember we’ve been talking already that we must presume that the Delta is around. Therefore, we must be five steps ahead,” said Rama, who has been acting mayor after Mayor Edgardo Labella went on medical leave.
“Let’s all avoid the so-called lockdown because we might be knocked down in the process,” he added.
Both the city and province of Cebu have been under modified general community quarantine, the loosest form of quarantine classification in the country, since September 2020.
The national government decided to escalate the quarantine status of Cebu City and province after the DOH reported 97 new cases of the Delta variant in the country on Thursday, 32 of which were from Cebu.
Bernadas said 19 of the Delta cases were from Lapu-Lapu City (Mactan Island), six from Cebu City, three from Mandaue City, and two each from the towns of Cordova (Mactan Island) and Samboan (southern Cebu).
Reason for surge
Bernadas said health experts believed that the presence of the more transmissible Delta variant caused the surge in COVID-19 cases in Cebu.
“It (results from the Philippine Genome Center) really validated what we thought caused the increase in the number of cases and the fast transmission in the past three weeks,” he said.
Bernadas said most of these 32 Cebuanos, who underwent swab tests from July 2 to July 10, have recovered while some were on their way to recovery.
The Delta variant, considered the most contagious variant of SARS-CoV-2, has spread in more than 80 countries since it was first detected in India.
As of July 29, Cebu City has 2,527 active cases of COVID-19, followed by Cebu province (2,424), Lapu-Lapu City (1,239) and Mandaue City (888), according to the DOH.
Police Col. Josefino Ligan, head of the Cebu City Police Office, said they would set up checkpoints in different areas in the city starting at 10 p.m. on July 30 to strictly implement the 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew. —REPORTS FROM NESTLE SEMILLA AND DALE G. ISRAEL
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