Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., also the presidential peace adviser, expressed the alarm of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) over the situation in Cebu in a virtual press conference.
The Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 tracker revealed Saturday there were now 3,317 confirmed cases in Cebu City as of June 19.
Other data from the department as of June 18 showed that Cebu City had the most number of coronavirus cases with 3,216, followed by Quezon City (2,800), Manila (1,776), Makati City (814) and Caloocan City (802).
Cebu City also recorded the most number of new coronavirus cases in the past 14 days with 855, followed by Cebu province (253), Manila (222), Quezon City (215), and Caloocan City (96).
A police officer also died Friday due to complications from COVID-19, the Cebu City Police Office reported, as 25 policemen battled the disease in the city as of Saturday.
The officer was a police executive master sergeant in CCPO’s investigation unit, and his death brought to seven the policemen from around the country who have succumbed to the disease.
They are among the total 456 officers who have contracted the disease, most of whom are frontliners, said Philippine National Police spokesperson Police Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac. Of this number, 276 have recovered.
Galvez said the IATF will continue to assess the COVID-19 situation in Cebu, National Capital Region (NCR), Calabarzon, Central Luzon, and Eastern Visayas.
In a related development in Cebu, the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF) has approved the recommendation of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to place Talisay City in the province under general community quarantine (GCQ), according to a report on Dobol B sa News TV on Saturday wich was heard in Cebu.
Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. thanked Garcia for her help.
“I’ve read in my newsfeed that Talisay has been downgraded back to GCQ. I thank Gov Gwen for all her help. But remember nothing is final up until the IATF resolution is signed and given to the city. Up until then we remain in a MECQ. I’m hoping by Monday we can start,” he said in a Facebook post.
On Saturday, Gullas said the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) would still be in effect on Sunday until he would received a copy of the RIATF resolution.
Other data from the DOH showed a third of COVID-19 cases in Cebu City reported in the last two weeks came from just 10 barangays.
The table shared by the DOH with media showed that 59 cases were recorded from June 5 to 18 in Lahug, 42 cases in Pardo, another 42 in Sambag II, 39 in Labangon, 31 in Bulacao and 30 in Basak San Nicolas.
The DOH also logged 29 cases each in Sambag I and Tinago, and 28 cases each in Carreta and Inayawan.
Since the start of June, Region 7 has been logging almost 100 to more than 200 cases daily, sometimes surpassing the new cases in the NCR, dubbed the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the Philippines.
According to Galvez, there was also a growing number of admission of those patients with critical COVID-19 cases in various hospitals in Cebu, more deaths are being recorded and private hospitals are nearly full.
He said the task force deployed a surveillance team from the Department of Health main office to closely monitor the situation in Cebu City.
“The DOH Region VII already added personnel, which include nursing staff for primary hospitals in Cebu,” he said.
Aside from additional staff, around 20 sets of high-flow nasal cannula non-invasive ventilators, 42,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) and, 16,000 face masks were sent to various hospitals in Cebu City.
Galvez also lauded San Miguel Corp. president Ramon Ang for donating the ventilators that were recently sent to Cebu.
“We already recommended using the quarantine facilities to completely isolate the COVID-19 cases,” he said.
“We also advised our LGUs and security forces to strictly enforce quarantine protocols and movement restrictions to imbibe the importance of social distancing, public health safety, and hygiene,” he said.
Galvez urged Cebu residents to cooperate with the government’s preventive measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the region.
Meanwhile, the IATF has directed the National Task Force to do a one-week evaluation of the Cebu City local government’s response to COVID-19.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, also acting as IATF spokesperson, said the assessment would begin on June 22.
During the Laging Handa program aired Saturday on state media PTV-4, Roque said the IATF’s latest directive was to orchestrate a “more calibrated” response.
“The National Task Force has been directed to evaluate the ground-level response of Cebu City starting Monday to have a more calibrated response,” he said.
Cebu City topped the list of areas in the country with high cases of COVID-19, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to place the city under ECQ from June 16 to 30.
To manage the continuing rise in Covid-19 cases in Cebu City, Roque said the IATF sought the possible creation of an NTF Emergency Operation Center and the designation of a Visayas Deputy Implementer for Central Visayas and the entire Visayas.
Roque said the IATF was also considering the establishment of out-patient services in existing temporary treatment and monitoring facilities, as well as the harmonization of regional and national data among the NTF, DOH, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
He said there was also a plan to improve the management of locally stranded individuals (LSIs).
Roque added the IATF also wanted the strict and uniform enforcement of minimum public health standards in high-risk areas like healthcare settings, wet markets, supermarkets, government offices, and workplaces.
On Tuesday, Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella sought to downgrade the classification of community quarantine in the city from ECQ to GCQ.
Malacañang, however, said on Monday the latest quarantine classification in Cebu City was already final and could only be modified after June 30.