Lockdown or lift quarantine status of barangays, now in LGU’s hands

By Minerva BC Newman

CEBU CITY — The decision to place a barangay or an area under a quarantine status now depends on the local government units (LGUs).

According to Dr. Junjie Zuasula, head of the Department of Health (DOH-7) Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit the LGUs must determine under what quarantine status a barangay, sitio, or a compound should be placed based on the parameters recommended under the Project Balik Buhay (PBB) prevalence survey.

Zuasula made this clarification in reaction to the Barangay Luz Council Resolution 20-043 that recommended the lifting of its enhanced community quarantine status (ECQ) after it was placed on total lockdown in April to May due to highest number of COVID-19 transmission within the barangay.

Zuasula said that they have presented to the Cebu City government officials the results of the PBB prevalence survey conducted by the city health offices of the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu, and volunteer medical technologists from May 6 to May 20.

The DOH-7 helped to analyze the data and to come up with the scaling model on determining quarantine status based on the prevalence rate estimates and compared these with the number of positive or confirmed cases from the data of the Cebu City Epidemiology Surveillance Unit, Zuasula said.

He added that DOH-7 recommended for LGUs to use the scaling model to decide whether to place the barangay under lockdown/quarantine or when to unlock/lift the quarantine status based on the level of cases and exposure.

The locking or unlocking of sitios or barangays would depend on the actual number of positive cases, determined by the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rtPCR) results, and the results of the rapid antibody tests (RAT) that establish the presence of IgM and IgG, Zuasula explained.

A positive IgM (IgM+) result indicates that the person might have been infected and the immune system has started responding to the virus. On the other hand, a positive IgG (IgG+) result suggests that the person tested has been infected, he added.

Zuasula went on that based on the proposed sequential scaling model, areas with more than 50 positive cases (based on Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rtPCR results) and with over 5.0 percent IgM+/IgM+IgG+ have to be placed under ECQ. On the other hand, areas with zero positive case, zero IgM+/IgM+IgG+ and 5.0 percent IgG+ can be downgraded to general community quarantine (GCQ), the doctor clarified.

Before implementing any changes in the quarantine status, DOH-7 has recommended that LGUs conduct disease surveillance in the barangays using the rapid antibody tests to determine how many infected cases remain and the number of recoveries, Zuasula commented.

The actual data collected would determine if the ECQ status of Sitio Zapatera in Barangay Luz could be lifted, Dr. Zuasula pointed out.

The DOH-7 has encouraged LGUs to conduct regular disease surveillance, preferably every 15 days, to determine the status of various barangays in the fight against COVID-19 and the corresponding actions they would take.

Dr. Zuasula, Dr. Van Philip Baton, DOH-7 regional medical coordinator for the Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases program, and DOH-7 chief pathologist Dr. Mary Jean Loreche were the guests during the “Mugstoria Ta” press briefing aired live over Facebook page of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV).