Cebu province to be placed under lockdown to prevent spread of coronavirus

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Cebu (CNN Philippines, March 25) — Governor Gwen Garcia announced on Wednesday that Cebu province will be placed under enhanced community quarantine or lockdown to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"We are moving towards a total lockdown... But we need to put needed measures first," Garcia said in a media briefing.

The governor said she will meet with all mayors of Cebu on Thursday to discuss the procedure for implementing the enhanced community quarantine. They will make the announcements after the meeting at the provincial capitol.

The province so far has one positive case, in Mandaue City.

However, Department of Health Region 7 Director Jaime Bernadas said there are eight"presumptive" coronavirus cases in Cebu.

Swab samples have been sent for confirmatory tests to the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City. Initial testing was done at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in the province.

Garcia said she has already asked the Provincial Board to hold an emergency session on Thursday to declare Cebu under a "state of emergency." This would allow local authorities to access emergency funds for COVID-19 response.

The official noted that there are several factors that needed to be prepared before a lockdown can be enforced, like food supplies, transportation, quarantine passes, among others.

By Friday midnight, Garcia also said that the province will no longer allow the entry of passengers from abroad. She will be issuing another executive order on this measure.

"I am doing this for the protection of the Cebuanos and for the interest of the Province of Cebu," Garcia said.

Duterte earlier placed the entire country under a state of public health emergency as more COVID-19 cases have been confirmed earlier this month. This was upgraded to a "state of national emergency" by Congress when it passed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act this week.