Cebu City says most new COVID-19 cases are employees bringing virus home to families

Ryan Macasero
Cebu City says most new COVID-19 cases are employees bringing virus home to families

COMMUTER. A Cebu City commuter goes to work wearing mask during pandemic

Health experts warn employees who work in the office to practice safety measures both in the office and at home. Overall, however, the number of new cases in Cebu City has seen a downward trend since the end of July.

While the number of new coronavirus cases has dramatically dropped in most barangays in Cebu City, the local government unit’s team in charge of COVID-19 response operations said offices have become the most “prevalent” source of infection.  

“For instance, of the 39 cases reported for Cebu City on August 21, 15 of those cases was the result of the contact tracing of two individuals who previously tested positive,” Cebu City’s COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center (EOC) said in a statement.

All 15 new cases were family members of the two individuals.

The EOC raised concern over workplace to household transmissions when Cebu City transitioned to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) on August 1, after nearly 4 months of lockdown. 

More businesses and offices were allowed to open earlier this month. 

In a previous conversation with Rappler, EOC head City Councilor Joel Garganera warned residents to be careful when eating together, whether with officemates, family, or with friends.

“The only time where you lower your guard is when you eat because you will not be covering your mouth there. You cannot also help when you’re eating with other people you tend to talk,” Garganera said. “And that time when I got COVID, me and my wife and 3 of those that were on the same table, 5 of us got it [coronavirus].”

The country’s coronavirus action plan chief Carlito Galvez noted the same observation earlier in August, that many infections were coming from workplace common areas and gatherings.

“We saw that the most critical care areas right now are the workplace, the ones we call economic hubs, at the same time the industries,” Galvez said. He noted many work spaces did not strictly enforce distancing measures in eating and smoking areas, especially.

Dr. Michelle Linsalata of the EOC said on the office-to-household transmissions: “The lesson here is that those who are going out from their homes, whether for work or to run errands, you are already exposed, especially when you are not mindful of health protocols and even if you are, it only takes one breach in protocol to get infected.” 

She encouraged employees to be mindful of safety protocols “inside and outside” their homes. 

Overall, however, the number of new cases in Cebu City has seen a downward trend since the end of July. 

According to the latest research by the OCTA group of the University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas, the replication rate dropped from a high of 2.0 in June to .51 from August 9 to 15. 

The province saw a surge in cases from June 1 to the end of July, but the number of new cases had dropped by 50% in August, according to the researchers. 

On August 25, Cebu City only had 7 new cases, the lowest number of new cases here since the Cebu opened its first RT-PCR lab in March. 

The city has 9,531 total cases, with 1,212 active cases after accounting for 7,694 recoveries and 625 deaths.

As of August 25, the Philippines is at 197,164 confirmed cases. At least 132,396 of those individuals have recovered, leaving 61,730 active cases in the country. The DOH reports 3,038 deaths so far. –

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.