CEBU CITY, Philippines – Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella placed Cebu under community quarantine, effective Monday, March 16, at 12:01 am.
Executive Order 52 was released late Sunday evening during a press conference held by the mayor. The inter-agency task force on COVID-19 only recommends community quarantine if there are 2 or more confirmed cases in a city, municipality, or barangay.
“We dont’ have yet a confirmed positive case,” Labella said during a press conference on Monday, March 16. “But it is better to be preemptive and precautionary rather than reactive.”
He said that while there were no positive cases there were a number of persons under monitoring (PUMs) – or people who have traveled to areas where novel coronavirus is present but no systems manifested – and persons under investigation (PUIs).
These are persons who have traveled to areas where coronavirus is present and have flu-like symptoms. Labella said the growing number of cases globally triggered the move to put Cebu City – the economic center of the Visayas – under community quarantine.
“We must not wait for more cases before taking action,” the mayor added in Cebuano. He added that the EO was complementary to Cebu province’s move to restrict entry into the province and take stricter precautionary measures in combating the virus.
Cebu City, although it is the capital of Cebu province, is independent of the provincial government.
Under community quarantine, all residents are advised to stay in their homes, except for necessary travel such as work; buying groceries, food, or medicines; or to go to the hospital.
The EO said that government work would “not be disrupted” but government agencies were encouraged to make alternative work arrangements for employees.
Seaports in Cebu City are now closed to ingoing and outgoing trips, except for cargo.
Health checkpoints will also be set up in the entry points of the city’s borders.
The order also asks barangays to take charge of surveying residents who may have symptoms.
Prior to the EO, a curfew had already implemented for minors between the hours of 8 pm and 5 am.
Because citizens aren’t banned from going out, Labella said that he did not want to call the EO a lockdown.
After a month-long quarantine was ordered of Metro Manila, thousands fled to their homes in the provinces. (READ: Metro Manila lockdown begins)
Over 300 arrived in the Port of Cebu on Saturday. Local officials asked them to self-quarantine and consider themselves PUMs.
Earlier on Sunday, the first positive coronavirus case in the Central Visayas died in Dumaguete City, prompting Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia to ban trips from Negros Island. (READ: Negros Oriental councilor dies of coronavirus)
The DOH announced a total of 111 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Philippines on Saturday evening, March 14 – Rappler.com