Año says fate of Cebu City's lockdown depends on data, notes 'remarkable change'

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 09 2020 12:02 PM

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MANILA – The fate of Cebu City's lockdown status would depend on data analytics, but Interior Secretary Eduardo Año believes that its quarantine status may ease as government has focused attention on it. 

“Puwedeng pumunta na sila ng MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) or even GCQ (general community quarantine) depende sa mga data analytics natin,” Año said in an interview on ABS-CBN's Teleradyo. 

Cebu City's ECQ status will remain in effect until July 15 amid the surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases after residents continue to defy quarantine protocols. It is the only city in the country under this strict lockdown level.

“Pero nakita talaga natin 'yung remarkable change sa Cebu City. Talagang binuhusan natin ng atensiyon at resources,” said Año. 

(We've seen the remarkable change in Cebu. We really poured attention and resources.)

Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte designated Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to oversee the quarantine of the city of some 900,000 people. 

Over a hundred members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force were also deployed in Cebu City to help the government with its COVID-19 response. 

Metro Manila quarantine

Meanwhile, Año said officials had a consultation with mayors in Metro Manila regarding their take on the lockdown status for National Capital Region. 

“Kasi nga sana diretso natin economic recovery or buksan na muli ang kabuhayan at nagsangguni tayo sa mga mayors kung ano 'yung saloobin nila,” he said. 

(Because we want economic recovery to continue or restart livelihood again and we consulted mayors on their sentiments.)
 
Año prefers a localized lockdown of a community, a street or a building instead of placing strict restrictions in large areas to immediately open up the economy and allow more people to resume work. 

“Kailangan talaga mabilis na aksiyon. ‘Di pwede na kapag mayroon nang cases saka ka pa lang kikilos ‘di hindi mo na na-contact trace 'yun,” he said. 

(We really need to act fast. We cannot just react when there are already cases and you could no longer contact trace.)

He also urged the public who may have been in contact with COVID-19 patients to take the initiative to step forward and not wait for contact tracing. 

“Come forward because we have enough testing kits, and ‘yan naman ay sasagutin ng PhilHealth (PhilHealth will cover that). Ang kailangan lang talaga dito 'yung sariling initiative. ‘Yan ang key diyan,” he said. 
 
(What we need is initiative. That's the key.)

The DILG chief said while Metro Manila was under lockdown for nearly 3 months, it was able to build its health capacity to address the pandemic and eventually restart the economy. 

He cited how testing capacity has improved, hospitals already have designated beds for COVID-19 patients, isolation facilities are up and running, and contact tracing has been enhanced. 

As of July 8, the health department recorded 50,359 cases of COVID-19 with 12,588 recoveries and 1,314 deaths.