CEBU CITY, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Cebu City has the highest number of coronavirus cases outside of the National Capital Region. According to the Cebu City Health Department, there are 1,749 total cases in this city after 9 new infections were confirmed on Monday afternoon, May 18.
The new cases were reported in the following areas:
- Ermita – 8
- Mambaling – 1
This brings the total number of new cases in a week to 89, including revisions.
Cebu and Mandaue cities are the only two local government units nationwide to still be under enhanced community quarantine until May 31. Mandaue’s appeal to remain under ECQ was granted on May 16.
Barangay Mambaling has the highest number of cases at 614, and the most deaths at 6.
The Cebu City Jail currently has 338 cases, the highest of any jail facility in the country.
Barangay Luz, which has been on lockdown since early April, has over 201 cases now.
What they have in common: All of the areas with a high number of cases are in urban poor neighborhoods, such as Sitio Alaska in Mambaling and Sitio Zapatera in Luz.
Dr Jaime Bernadas, Department of Health Central Visayas director, said cases in these areas have been declared as “community transmission” or when there is no clear information on the origin or how the virus got there.
Zapatera – a sitio of over 9,000 residents – was the first barangay to hit over 100 positive cases in early April, after contact tracing and targeted testing yielded dozens more results.
Labangon, which has about 33,000 residents, hit over 100 by April 28, followed by the fishing barangay of Suba.
Sitio Tinabangay and Alaska in Barangay Mambaling are both on lockdown. Tinabangay was locked down on April 23, while Alaska was locked down on May 7. Mambaling has an estimated 32,000 residents.
The Cebu City Jail is also a facility that has a congestion rate of about 1,000%.
Aside from this, these barangays experience frequent water shortages, especially in the summertime, preventing the frequent handwashing that health authorities require to contain the outbreak. (READ: Cebu’s water crisis threatens coronavirus prevention, says WHO)
More lockdowns: An area called “Negative” in Sitio Bagumbayan in Barangay Carreta, another urban poor neighborhood off General Maxilom Avenue, will also be placed on lockdown, Mayor Edgar Labella said on Sunday, May 11.
Lockdown means no one will be allowed in and out of their homes, mass testing through polymerease chain reaction (PCR) swabs will be conducted, and those who test positive will be placed in isolation.
Mass testing through May 21: The cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu have begun their targeted mass testing through random sampling on Wednesday, May 6. It was supposed to have started earlier, but was delayed because of concerns of barangays on the implementation of the testing.
Bernadas said during an online press conference on Monday that they intended to complete the testing by May 21, from an original target of May 15, when the enhanced community quarantine expires.
The mayors of the 3 cities said in a press conference on May 9 that they intended to test 40,000 more households.
The Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, which tests for the entire Visayas, can accomodate about 1,000 PCR tests a day. The Department of Health is trying to increase that to 3,000 tests a day before the end of May.
Other interesting notes: The majority of the cases that yielded a high number of positive results are concentrated in the lowland barangays, which occupy roughly one-fourth of Cebu City’s land, but where most of the economic, industrial, and commercial activities take place. It is also where a majority of Cebu City’s one million people live.
Upper Bacayan is the first mountain barangay to yield over 40 positive results. It is also the first area that is not high density nor urban poor. According to Bernadas, the 40 positive results were found through contact tracing.
While he did not give a specific number of how many total tests were run in Bacayan, he said that there were more “negative” test results than there were positive.
Those who tested positive will then be isolated until they pass confirmatory swab tests.
Check the red dots on the map to see the total number of cases per barangay in Cebu City.
(Note: the dots represent only the total cases per barangay and not the exact location of the confirmed cases.)
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– with reporting from Akira Medina/Rappler.com