MANILA, Philippines – After a marked rise in coronavirus cases, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered stricter quarantine protocols over Cebu City, placing the city on lockdown again starting June 16.
Duterte made this decision on Monday, June 15, the day the general community quarantine (GCQ) period was supposed to expire for Cebu City.
“President Rodrigo Duterte…placed Cebu City under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) starting June 16,” Roque said in a statement past midnight of Tuesday, June 16.
The cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu will remain under GCQ, while Talisay City, a component city under the province of Cebu, will be placed under modified ECQ until June 30, 2020.
Since June 1, Metro Manila, Cebu City, and several provinces in the country have been under GCQ, a phase that critically allows limited public transportation.
The rest of the country had been downgraded to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), which is the loosest quarantine phase, where public transportation may resume full-capacity operations, dine-in in restaurants, cinemas and gyms may re-open at half capacity, and public gatherings permitted with limitations.
Ahead of Duterte’s decision, at least 6 local government units appealed to the government’s coroanvirus task force to tighten quarantine restrictions in their areas.
Among these were Cebu City, which recommended a return to a modified enhanced community quarantine, while the provinces of Quezon, Abra, Apayao, Lanao del Sur, and the Caraga region wanted a GCQ.
Reasons for decision. Deciding whether or not to further ease quarantine restrictions in Cebu City was among the issues that dominated task force meetings on Monday.
The Philippines recorded over 26,000 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Monday, including 1,098 deaths and over 6,000 recoveries.
Days before the decision, University of the Philippines experts warned that Cebu province’s rise in new cases shows it is the country’s “second major battleground.” They predicted 11,000 cases in the island province by June 30.
Their study also showed Cebu City with a reproduction number of 2, even higher than Metro Manila’s reproduction number of 0.96 at the time.
The reproduction number is one measurement of the virus’ spread that looks at the “transmission potential” of a disease or the number of people one positive case can infect.
A reproduction number higher than 1 means a person in that area with a disease can infect more than one person, which indicates that the disease is able to spread more rapidly there. Experts say the goal is to bring the reproduction number way below 1 in order to say the outbreak has been managed.
Roque said the increasing number of new cases and widespread community transmission in majority of barangays in the city, as well as consistent case doubling time of less than 7 days were factors in reverting Cebu City reverted back to ECQ. – Rappler.com