#COVID-19 Regional Updates (05/19/20)

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Cebu province transitions to GCQ on May 20: No aircon in restos, beaches open in the morning

CEBU province is transitioning to the general community quarantine (GCQ) policy on Wednesday, with public transport expected to be back on the roads while restaurants and beaches will reopen with limitations. Cebu, the most populous province in the country with over 4.6 million including those in three independent cities, is composed of 44 towns and six component cities. Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia, in a meeting Friday with all the mayors, rallied her fellow local officials to shift towards a mindset of “fortitude from fear” as they work towards reviving the economy. “Fear was caused mainly by the fact that it is a new strain,” she said during last Monday’s afternoon briefing as she cited the relatively low number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases and related deaths in the province. Ms. Garcia was among the first local government officials to impose tight restrictions, including border closures, when the COVID-19 outbreak started in March. Department of Health data as of May 18 show Cebu province has 56 confirmed COVID-19 patients, including 37 within the provincial jail. The entire Central Visayas Region has recorded 2,019, with about 88% located in Cebu City.

“I would want to look at the COVID-19 pandemic the other way… It’s about time that we resuscitate our struggling economy and take steps to improve the lives of people that are now suffering,” she said during the streamed meeting. Under the GCQ, public transport vehicles — including inter-town buses, tricycles as well as boats to and from the island towns of Bantayan and Camotes — can resume operations; dining places can reopen at 50% capacity and no use of air conditioning; shopping centers are allowed subject to national rules; hotels, resorts and other hospitality service establishments may also reopen subject to restrictions such as no group gatherings “of any form”; and people may go to beaches, rivers, and other open bodies of waters from 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Health safety standards set by the national government such as physical distancing and wearing of face masks also apply. “We have to accept that the old normal is gone so we can adjust and adapt to a whole new world,” Ms. Garcia said. — MSJ

95% of COVID-19 patients in Cebu City asymptomatic, situation being managed says mayor

CEBU City Mayor Edgardo C. Labella on Tuesday said at least 95% of the 1,749 confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the city are asymptomatic. He attributed the identification of asymptomatic cases to the extensive contact tracing being conducted by the city government and assured that the situation is being managed. “We have to underscore the fact that contact tracing is a very important component in this fight against coronavirus,” he said in a virtual briefing. He detailed that more than 10,000 were tested using the reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction technique (RT-PCR) recommended by the World Health Organization, while at least 8,000 were tested using rapid kits. The city purchased 35,000 RT-PCR test kits. The asymptomatic patients are housed in barangay isolation centers, he said. He added that they also have eight teams conducting the contact tracing. About 19% of the cases are at the city jail. Cebu City and neighboring Mandaue City are still under the strict enhanced community quarantine policy until May 31. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas