Cimatu wants Cebu City to remain under ECQ

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 30) — Cebu City should remain under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until COVID-19 cases are contained in the area, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said on Tuesday.

Cimatu, who leads government efforts to fight the coronavirus in the city, also recommended that the lockdown in barangays with high cases be maintained.

"We have to contain cases bago luwagan ang ECQ. Then kung naluwagan ang ECQ, i-concentrate na dito sa lockdown, yung granular na tinatawag natin," he said during a virtual briefing in Malacanang.

[Translation: We have to contain the cases first before easing the ECQ. When the ECQ is relaxed, we can concentrate on areas under lockdown, under what we call granular lockdown.]

Out of 80 barangays in the city, 12 are currently registering high numbers of COVID-19 cases, according to Cimatu. These barangays were placed under hard lockdown and are currently being closely monitored by authorities.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' News.PH on Thursday, Cimatu also bared his plans to tighten preventive measures in the said areas.

Kung pwede, ‘yung ibang mga tao na lang from the barangays ang magdadala ng kanilang ration, mga pagkain, ilagay lang doon sa harapan ng kanilang bahay. Kukunin na lang ng mga tao doon para hindi na sila mamamalengke, hindi na sila pupunta outside of their residence,” he said.

[Translation: If possible, other people from the barangays will deliver their ration, their food, in front of their houses. Residents would just have to get the commodities there so they wouldn’t have to go to the market or leave their homes.]

Ganyan ang pinaplano ko para hindi mag-spread nang mabilis dito,” he continued.

[Translation: That’s what I’m planning to prevent the spread of the virus here.]

Cimatu has described the statistics as "very alarming," noting that the average number of deaths in Cebu City had been increasing. On Monday alone, 13 deaths were recorded. Of 100 people tested, 30 would turn up positive.

"Pataas 'yung mga namamatay, including cases for Cebu City lang. We have to contain muna ito," Cimatu stressed.

[Translation: Deaths are rising, including cases for Cebu City alone. We have to contain this first.]

Meanwhile, Dr. Tony Leachon, who formerly served as Special Adviser to the National Task Force on COVID-19,​ said Tuesday the surge of COVID-19 cases in Cebu City could have been avoided.

"When we went to Cebu, the data that I got from the regional director from region 7 is quite far from the data that we got from the doctors, from the medical community, and this is a big problem considering you cannot anticipate problems if the data would not be transparent, open and straight-forward," Leachon said in a media briefing.

"If let's say the data management and transparency were there, and the medical community were apprised together with the political leaders, then we would not right now have an ECQ in Cebu," he added.

Cimatu also said he was thinking of relocating some isolation facilities that are too close to communities. He warned that administrative charges would be filed against local officials who violate quarantine rules. 

Fourteen people are facing criminal charges for holding a religious parade in Sitio Alumnos in Barangay Basak San Nicolas — considered a COVID-19 hotspot with at least 90 confirmed cases.

Cebu province, three other areas seek reclassification of quarantine status

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Cebu and and three other provinces are seeking reclassification of their quarantine status.

The local government of Bulacan and Cagayan are reportedly among those who made the appeal. Roque did not identify the provinces, saying only that the majority wanted to have tighter quarantine restrictions.

Two weeks ago, President Rodrigo Duterte placed Cebu City back to ECQ status from the more relaxed general community quarantine due to a spike in cases.

Cimatu attributed the surge to overcrowding in barangays and the return of people stranded in Metro Manila who may have already been infected by the virus.