Cebu to share Covid response practices with Visayan cities

THE Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (Opav) will bring Cebu’s effective Covid-19 response measures to the cities of Bacolod and Iloilo to help them manage the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

Opav assistant secretary Jonji Gonzales announced that they are planning to collate all the best practices adopted by the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu in their fight against the health crisis and put them into a manual or playbook.

The Opav aims to make this available to other local government units (LGUs) in the Visayas to guide them in their mitigating measures against Covid-19.

In “Mugstoria Ta,” Opav’s official virtual talk show aired on its Facebook page, officials from Cebu’s major tri-cities shared what they have done to bring down the number of Covid-19 cases in their respective localities.

Best practices

Mary Rose Lubino, chief of staff of Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, attributed the city’s progress in containing the virus to the creation of cluster clinics, barangay isolation centers and quarantine facilities; augmentation of contact tracing teams; and widespread testing.

“In Cebu City, our biggest game-changer is our ramped up contact tracing teams, which are now at 130 teams, to trace all possible first-level contacts,” Lubino said.

Despite the city now gradually reopening its economy, she said vigilance is maintained especially since there’s already increased mobility of people.

She said: “Although we are seeing a downtrend and our cases are now manageable, we should never be complacent. Now is the time to be vigilant with the increasing mobility.”

Lubino said the city government is now doing data management to document everything it has done to address the pandemic.

For his part, August Lizer Malate, head of Mandaue’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), stressed that the establishment of an EOC has helped the city to focus its efforts to address the Covid-related concerns.

The city’s EOC is composed of different teams with different functions: contact tracing team, testing and diagnostic team, patient management team, logistics and management of the dead team and the data management team.

Malate said Mandaue got the idea of adding the data management team to the EOC from Gen. Melquiades Feliciano, the IATF deputy implementor for the Visayas.

“These are our dedicated teams that are going to implement the national directives to address the pandemic: isolate, test and treat,” he said.

The data management team is centralizing the city’s data system and is made up of the surveillance and validation units. The latter is responsible for verifying the data before releasing it.

He said augmenting data transparency has also helped in making the city’s residents informed with the help of massive information dissemination.

A widespread information drive has also become a key factor in Lapu-Lapu City’s virus response, according to city administrator Danilo Almendras.

Almendras said: “We should not be complacent. We continued our information dissemination by tapping our tricycle drivers and giving them honorarium. We’ve also done forums in various barangays regarding the risks of Covid-19.”

The city government has also implemented legislation to impose the strict implementation of quarantine protocol, particularly the mandatory wearing of masks.

“We also implemented some novel ideas like having a roaming casket to remind people of the risks of contracting the virus,” he added.

Gonzales, who also serves as Opav’s special concerns officer for Western Visayas, said these practices will be relayed to other LGUs in the Visayas, particularly Bacolod and Iloilo. Gonzales said the Covid-19 cases in Bacolod and Iloilo were on an uptrend following the return of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) there.

Based on Aug. 13 data from the Department of Health in Western Visayas, Region 6 has 1,320 active cases, the majority of which are LSIs, ROFs and authorized persons outside their residences.

However, health authorities have observed an increase in local transmission. The Opav is also eyeing to share the guidelines of the Project Balik Buhay (PBB), a private-public collaborated economic recovery roadmap it has initiated, to the other areas in the Visayas that are now reopening their economies.

Cebu’s major tri-cities are now adopting the guidelines set by the PBB particularly on conducting random testing in the workplace as they restart economic activities. This is to ensure the safety of workers and allow the businesses to safely reopen. (PR)


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