PLEASE do not accuse me of being an alarmist, but I have a gut feel that Cebu Province and the highly urbanized cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, now under Alert Level 4 due to the rising of Covid-19 cases after reaching four digits these last few days and with hospitalization and heath care facilities reaching critical level, we will not be surprised that, by next week, we will be placed under a stricter quarantine status, from modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). The MECQ status in the tri-cities and general community quarantine (GCQ) status in the Province will expire on Aug. 15. And after that, we have to brace ourselves for a lockdown. But I hope it won’t happen.
The Department of Health (DOH) on the weekend announced that the alert levels were assigned to each province, highly urbanized city (HUC) and independent component city (ICC) based on Covid-19 case growth, hospital utilization rates and the presence of the highly contagious Delta variant.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that areas under Alert Level 4, the highest classification, are those with moderate to critical risk classification and more than 70 percent healthcare utilization regardless of the presence of the Delta variant. “We assigned alert levels because we are in a crisis and there is a need for urgent action from government. The alert levels will trigger specific actions to address the crisis,” Vergeire said.
If you have noticed, based on the current situation, Cebu City has met the three criteria. The positivity cases are increasing every day in three digits. Some of our local hospitals, both public and private, are already full due to lack of Covid designated rooms and shortage of manpower complement like nurses. In fact, some of the patients are not immediately accommodated in the emergency room or in regular rooms because of these problems, aside from waiting for the results of their swab test. There is also a shortage of oxygen supply. And there are already reported Delta variant cases here, especially in Lapu-Lapu City.
Vergeire said that to address the rise in cases and high hospital utilization rates in these areas, the LGU must implement granular lockdowns and active case finding with possible rapid antigen test in areas with local Delta variant cases. But can the various LGUs here immediately solve these problems? I doubt it.
The Octa Research released its observation report for Cebu City. It said that the recent seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases in Cebu City increased by 22 percent from the previous week to 271 (for the period of Aug. 1-7). This is higher than the peak of the surge on Feb. 20, 2021, when Cebu City reported 266 new Covid-19 cases. Octa Research also described the same situation in Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu and Talisay cities.
We are still under MECQ, the second highest stringent quarantine status, but it seems nothing has happened in containing the spread of the virus. The cases are increasing every day. Isn’t it alarming? Based on my observation in Cebu City alone, the situation is the same as before we were placed under MECQ. We can still see people flocking in the streets, public markets and public places.
Establishments are still open and public transportation continues to operate except the inbound and outbound passenger vessels. I report to GMA 7 broadcast complex in Nivel Hills, Apas early morning, and I have witnessed several times that these modernized jeepneys are loaded with passengers. At night time, I also see traditional jeepneys plying the routes of Lahug and Busay loaded with passengers. Who are the violators? Is it the fault of the passengers who forced their way or the jeepney drivers and conductors who still accommodate passengers despite that their units already in full capacity?
In Nivel Hills, there are vendors selling fish and fruits on the sidewalk and the customers do not observe social distancing. Who is monitoring them?
Yes, our police and Probe team are conducting mobile checkpoints and foot patrol, but they are not in the field 24/7. Even curfew hours are not fully implemented. There are still people roaming in the city proper in the wee hours of the night. What are these people doing outside? Are they exempted? So the “stay at home order” is not really fully implemented?
We have the same situation in the National Capital Region (NCR), which is placed under ECQ until Aug. 20. So we have to brace ourselves for the same situation.