Cebu province placed under enhanced community quarantine due to COVID-19 threat

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 26) — Cebu province is now under enhanced community quarantine or lockdown to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"There is an urgent need to put the entire Province of Cebu under a state of enhanced community quarantine to allow the more stringent measures to be implemented," Governor Gwen Garcia said in Executive Order No. 5-N signed on March 25.

By Friday, entry of all travelers on international flights in Cebu province will be banned.

"As of 12:01, we will no longer be accepting passengers arriving via international flights from any point of the world," Garcia told CNN Philippines on Thursday. 

Garcia clarified that movement of all cargo in airports and seaports in the province during the quarantine period will not be restricted, adding delivery of basic and essential goods will be prioritized.

The province so far has one positive case, in Mandaue City. According to DOH, there are a total of nine "presumptive" positive cases in the province: seven in Cebu City and one each in Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu. 

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 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 need to be prepared before a lockdown can be enforced, like food supplies, transportation, quarantine passes, among others.

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.