MANILA — Authorities in Cebu City "still have a lot to do" as the death rate due to the novel coronavirus spiked there, its mayor said Thursday, the first day of the urban center's downgraded lockdown level.
Cebu has confirmed a total of 6,292 cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, including 211 deaths, according to the health department's website.
This yields a death rate of about 3 percent, up from 0.8 in May, said Mayor Edgardo Labella.
"Medyo tumaas ngayon admittedly although mataas iyong recovery natin... Isa iyan sa challenges sa hospitals natin," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(It increased slightly admittedly although our recovery rate is high. That is one of the challenges to our hospitals.)
Cebu City has 8 level 3 hospitals equipped with isolation rooms, which cater to patients from neighboring provinces, said Labella.
The increase of COVID-19 cases in the city slowed in the last 4 to 5 days, while the recovery rate hit 53 percent, the highest in the country, he said.
Cebu City's lockdown, effective until July 31, was downgraded to modified enhance community quarantine or MECQ, the second highest in a 4-step scale. It is currently the stricted lockdon in the country.
"We still have to do a lot of things, samahan natin ng pagdasal," said Labella.
Under MECQ, malls whose operations were previously limited to food and essentials will be allowed to reopen other retail stores, Labella said. The mayor said he would meet mall owners about pandemic protocols later Thursday.
Dine-in is still banned at restaurants which should only offer take-out, he said. Port operations will be limited to cargo, added the mayor.
Public transport remains suspended and the city will provide 20 buses to ferry residents, he said.
Soldiers and policemen will continue monitoring pandemic protocols, which had been difficult to enforce in Cebu City's informal settlements, he said.
The city council is also set to issue an ordinance designating a plot of land in Barangay Sapang Dako as a public cemetery.
Another cemetery that used to be a burial ground for American soldiers is facing ownership disputes, he said.
"For so many decades, wala talagang matawag nating (there was really no) official cemetery ng Cebu government," said Labella.