CEBU, Philippines — For Secretary Carlito Galvez, Cebu City still needs “stringent restrictions” moving forward as the city’s current quarantine classification, enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), ends today, June 30.
Galvez is chief implementer of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
“We don’t want to preempt the pronouncements ng presidente pero nakikita namin na kailangan pa talaga ng stringent restrictions kasi na find out namin na nung nag ECQ sila, hindi ito properly implemented,” Galvez said during a virtual presser with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque yesterday.
(We don’t want to preempt the pronouncement of the president but we saw that they still need stringent restrictions because we found out that when the ECQ was not implemented properly.)
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce the new quarantine classifications today.
Galvez, nevertheless, backs the earlier statement of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano that Cebu City as now the epicenter of COVID-19 in the country. Earlier this month, Galvez’s former special adviser, Dr. Tony Leachon, also tagged Cebu as the epicenter.
“Cebu City is now the focal point of COVID-19 in the country. Kung makikita po natin, yun Cebu, na-surpass niya yung tinatawag nating level ng active cases ng different (LGUs). Yung 15 na tinatawag nating heavily urbanized cities, siya po ang pinakamataas po ngayon, ang Cebu City,” Galvez said.
(Cebu City is now the focal point of COVID-19 in the country. If we look at it, it has surpassed what we call the level of active cases of different LGUs. From among the 15 heavily urbanized cities, Cebu City has the highest now.)
“Nakikita namin na tumataas po yung tinatawag nating mga severe at mga critical cases. In fact, pati yung mga rate of death tumataas na rin… Parang nakita namin yung experience sa Cebu, yung experience natin sa NCR nung March 24 to April 13,” he said.
(We saw that the number of what we call as severe and critical cases have gone up, including the death rate… what we’re seeing in Cebu appears to be what we have experienced in NCR from March 24 to April 13.)
“Nakikita ko po talaga na nagkakaroon ng surge of cases. Sa Vicente Sotto, meron silang presentation na out of 122 deaths, ang very critical sa information nila ay less than 48 hours namamatay, 86. Meaning severe cases nila, di na nade-detect agad,” Galvez said.
(We saw a surge of cases. In Vicente Sotto, the critical information they showed is that out of 122 deaths, 86 died in less than 48 hours. This means the severe cases are not detected immediately.)
DOH’s latest data show Cebu City with the highest total number of cases at 4,562 as against 3,161 of Quezon City and 2,290 of Metro Manila.
For active cases in the last 14 days, Cebu City tops with 910 cases followed by Cebu Province with 407 and Quezon City with 364.
Aside from the active cases, Galvez said Cebu City also has the highest number of deaths now.
“Siya po ang may pinakamataas po sa ngayon (deaths) at nakikita po natin na yung kangyang severe at critical cases are very much ano, talagang alarming,” Galvez said.
(It has the most number of deaths now and we saw that its number of severe and critical cases is very alarming.)
In the last 14 days, DOH data reported 17 deaths from Cebu City, seven from Cebu Province, and four from Lapu-Lapu.
Data from the City Health Department even show more deaths than the data from DOH.
Galvez said the hospitals are still overwhelmed.
“Sa critical care, ibig sabihin ng critical care – lahat ng mga hospital, most sa mga malalaking hospitals dun sa Cebu ay napupuno po,” Galvez said.
(As far as critical care is concerned, most of the big hospitals in Cebu are full.)
He noted, however, that Cebu is unlike Metro Manila in terms of the number of hospitals that can cater to Level 3 cases. In Metro Manila, there are 46 hospitals handling Level 3 cases as against only seven in Cebu, mainly Cebu City.
He pointed out, however, that despite this being the case, the local government units in Metro Manila did not relax their quarantine measures even after they were downgraded to general community quarantine.
“I’m impressed in Metro Manila as it is much, much stricter than what we have seen in Cebu,” Galvez said.
Galvez said they are in close coordination with doctors from Cebu City.
The national government has already sent a medical team from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as well as members of the Special Action Forces (SAF) to help implement quarantine protocols.
Galvez and the other members of the national IATF will return to Cebu City tomorrow with Secretary Roy Cimatu, the government troubleshooter President Rodrigo Duterte assigned to oversee the COVID-19 response in the city. JMO (FREEMAN)