Cebu City now the ‘focal point’ of COVID-19 in PH — Galvez

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 29)— With local cases continuing to spike, Cebu City may now be considered as the new “focal point” of COVID-19 in the Philippines, an official of the COVID-19 National Task Force said Monday.

Ang main focal point po natin ngayon (Our main focal point now) for COVID-19 is really Cebu (City), considering that the parameters, thresholds, new cases are increasing— even surpassing the whole NCR (National Capital Region),” NTF chief implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr. said in a virtual media briefing in Malacañang.

Apart from the surge in infections, Galvez likewise cited the area’s high mortality rate, adding that the number of severe and critical cases has become “alarming.”

He said a certain medical facility has also reported dozens of deaths in a span of two days— which could translate to possible undetected severe cases.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, in an earlier television interview, said that Cebu City is now the “epicenter” of coronavirus in the country— a statement its mayor Edgar Labella agreed to.

Labella, speaking to CNN Philippines’ The Source, attributed the increase in cases to relaxed lockdown policies implemented beforehand, as well as a backlog in health records.

Local and national officials have vowed to address the healthcare and manpower problems in the area, with the Health Department already ordering the deployment of “doctors to the barrios” to help Cebu City in its pandemic battle.

READ: DOH orders deployment of doctors to Cebu City to help in COVID-19 fight

Decision up to task force, but city hoping for GCQ

Despite the crisis situation, Labella said he would personally prefer for Cebu City to revert back to a general community quarantine, citing a high and improving recovery rate for coronavirus among its constituents. He added that Cebu City is also the “gateway” and center for the business, trade, and tourism industries in the region.

However, he noted the final decision still lies in the hands of the COVID-19 inter-agency task force, which is set to submit new lockdown recommendations to President Rodrigo Duterte soon.

Galvez, for his part, acknowledged the data on the recovery rate, but stressed that the city is still at a disadvantage when it comes to the critical care capacity, given they have fewer level 3 hospitals compared to the metro.

Meanwhile, the chief implementer threw praise for Metro Manila mayors, saying he was “impressed” with the measures implemented in the capital region during the GCQ.

Noong nagpunta ako sa Cebu, I was very impressed that the implementations of Metro Manila (are) much, much stricter of what we have seen in Cebu,” Galvez said, citing observations from his recent visit.

[Translation: When I visited Cebu, I was very impressed that the implementations of Metro Manila are much, much stricter of what we have seen in Cebu.]