Cebu neighborhood holds fiesta despite being coronavirus hot spot

Ryan Macasero
Cebu neighborhood holds fiesta despite being coronavirus hot spot
A new quarantine facility is open in Cebu City, while an employee of the provincial capital dies of the virus

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Despite the increased military and police presence in Cebu City, a neighborhood decided to push through with its fiesta in Sitio Alumnos, Barangay Basak, San Nicolas town on Sunday, June 28.

The barangay has the 5th highest number of active cases in Cebu City at 93.

City Councilor Edu Rama called for organizers of the festival to be charged due to the state of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) over Cebu City, the second epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the Philippines.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año himself got wind of it and asked the police to investigate it.

“We will not tolerate any violation of our quarantine protocols. Those responsible will be made to account. We’ve not been remiss in reminding everyone of the risk of COVID-19 transmission in mass gathering, and yet we see these kinds of activities. And what makes it worse is, the barangay is a COVID-19 hot spot,” Año said said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

Barangay Chairperson Norman Navarro said in a statement he was unaware that there would be a dance presentation. “I am against this because all festivals have been cancelled,” Navarro said in a statement. “We should just pray at home to wait out these challenging times.”

Shortly after the festival, more military were deployed to the barangay.

New quarantine center opens

QUARANTINE CENTER. A new quarantine facility opens in Cebu City. Photo courtesy of NTF COVID-19

A 300-bed quarantine facility opened its doors on Monday, June 29, adding much-needed capacity amid the rising number of coronavirus cases in Cebu City.

According to the national government, hospital and COVID-19 ward capacity in Cebu are reaching critical levels, which is why local government units and health agencies are scrambling to increase the capacity for coronavirus patients.

“The creation of NOAH Complex is only one of the many testaments of the true Bayanihan spirit brought out by the pandemic,” said Retired Major General Melquiades Feliciano, who is assisting Cebu coronavirus management overseer Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.

“We have seen so many acts of helping one another during our toughest times, and this only proves that we will rise above this challenge when we work together,” Feliciano added.

The facility was constructed on a 6,600-square-meter lot at the South Road Properties.

It is the latest of 4 quarantine facilities Cebu City has built for mild to moderate COVID-19 patients.

The Bayanihan Cebu Field Center opened on April 22 with 50 beds. The NRA quarantine center opened its 200-bed facility on April 25, while the 130-bed IEC Center opened on May 25.

The city now has 680 beds available for mild and moderate patients.

Capitol employee dies of COVID-19 

CEBU CAPITOL. At least 10 Cebu provincial capitol employees test positive for the coronavirus. File photo by Franz Lopez/Rappler

Meanwhile, Cebu province reported the death of an employee over the weekend.

A 58-year-old female, who worked for the province but lived in Cebu City, died on June 25. Her swab test came back positive, according to a report in The Freeman.

However, her confirmatory results came back negative, therefore classifying her case to “suspected COVID-19.”

Contact tracing was conducted on the last persons she came in contact with, according to Dr. Christina GIango, Cebu province’s health officer.

Another 53-year-old employee, a resident of Barangay Kamputhaw in Cebu City, tested positive on June 15. He died on June 26.

There are currently 10 cases of COVID-19 among employees of the capitol and 19 total cases. All of these employees live in Cebu City, according to the provincial health office.

According to Giango, neither of the two deaths practiced tuob – or steam inhalation – something Governor Gwen Garcia has been advocating in the province.

She got flack for issuing a memo to employees of the capital to practice tuob as a way to ward off the coronavirus.

She later said she was not advocating tuob as a treatment but an alternative to boost health.

No scientific studies confirm that steam inhalation has any effect on patients with COVID-19.

According to the Cebu City Health Department, there are 4,962 cases in Cebu City. The Department of Health Central Visayas reports 1,052 confirmed coronavirus infections in the province.

The number of coronavirus cases in the Philippines surpassed the 36,000-mark on Monday, June 29, after the Department of Health reported 985 new cases in the country. –

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Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers social welfare for Rappler. He started at Rappler as social media producer in 2013, and later took on various roles for the company: editor for the #BalikBayan section, correspondent in Cebu, and general assignments reporter in the Visayas region. He graduated from California State University, East Bay, with a degree in international studies and a minor in political science. Outside of work, Ryan performs spoken word poetry and loves attending local music gigs. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmacasero or drop him leads for stories at