THE number of coronavirusdisease (Covid-19) cases in Cebu City may have dropped to a more manageable level in August; however, the region’s top cop is not taking any chances.

Police Regional Office-Central Visayas (PRO 7) Director Albert Ignatius Ferro is recommending that Cebu City’s general community quarantine (GCQ) status be extended for at least another week after Aug. 31, 2020 or until a police vacuum is filled to avoid a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.

Ferro told reporters he plans to tell the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF) that there is no need to hastily downgrade Cebu City’s quarantine status to a more relaxed quarantine level.

“Again, I am very conservative. I would rather recommend a status quo,” Ferro said.

Ferro explained that for now, he wants to keep Cebu City’s GCQ status to give way to the transition of police forces in the city as augmentation personnel from Eastern and Western Visayas are about to leave for the cities of Iloilo and Bacolod to help control the rising number of Covid-19 cases there.

“Maybe give us seven days or a week so that the transition of the vacuum position of our augmentation will be filled out first before we could come up with a more relaxed quarantine level,” Ferro said on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020.

Replacement personnel

Ferro said the PNP National Headquarters will send around 250 new police officers to Central Visayas to assist the region’s Crisis Response Battalion in ensuring that quarantine protocols in Cebu City are properly observed.

The new cops will replace the 100-strong augmentation force that is about to leave Cebu City for other assignments.

He added that the PNP will also be assisted by newly recruited members of Cebu City’s Task Force Kasaligan consisting of around 200 personnel.

Earlier this week, the Cebu City Government reported that the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the city continued to dip further in August.

It also reported a 77 percent availability of Covid-19 dedicated beds in the city’s public and private hospitals, which means that only 23 percent of beds were currently occupied.

Covid-19 cases in Cebu City started to decrease from an average of more than 300 cases a day during the months of May to July to only less than 50 cases as of Aug. 25.

Cebu City also had single-digit cases for two straight days from Aug. 22-23. On Aug. 24, it recorded 11 new cases.

Cebu City officials said this could signal a shift to the more relaxed modified GCQ (MGCQ) on Sept. 1.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said he will confer with Ferro and health officials on the matter.

“I will just have to confer with him, together with our health officials maybe next week,” the mayor said in an interview on Aug. 28, 2020.

Earlier, Labella said he was open to placing the city under MGCQ but planned to retain strict measures to ensure that there will be no resurgance of Covid-19 cases in the city.

The measures include the continued closure of entertainment-related industries such as theaters, while concerts are also still not allowed to prevent mass gatherings.

The use of quarantine passes will also continue to control the number of people going out of their homes.

For his part, Ferro vowed to continue implementing strict quarantine measures such as police checkpoints that will require civilians to show quarantine passes whenever they are out of the house even if the IATF decides to place Cebu City under MGCQ.

As of Aug. 27, Wednesday, the Department of Health 7 reported 617 active cases, 8,302 total recoveries and 647 deaths in Cebu City. / JJL / JKV