Cebu City might be PH's next hot spot for coronavirus

By Noreen Jazul

Noting the increase in the number of its cases, Cebu City might be the country’s next coronavirus disease (COVID-19) hotspot, a special adviser to the National Task Force against COVID-19 said on Sunday.

(Cebu City Public Information Office / MANILA BULLETIN) (Cebu City Public Information Office / MANILA BULLETIN)

“The City of Cebu might be our next hotspot. As you know, Metro Manila cases are going down and Cebu City cases are going up. Then we have Region 8 that is also alarming because it suddenly has many cases which are mostly from the Balk Probinsya (program) and the returning OFWs (overseas Filipino workers),” Dr. Ted Herbosa told the ANC.

Herbosa said based on reports they have received, most of the cases in Region 8 came from Region 7, particularly Cebu City.

“We had reports of a spike of cases (in Region 8). When they showed us the list of the cases, they are mostly coming from Cebu,” the medical expert said.

Herbosa said Cebu City can “spread” the disease “all over different provinces in different regions” like Regions 7, 8, and even to Mindanao, considering that it is a “major trading port” of Visayas and a “mecca” for a lot of businessmen and traders.

Reason for increase in cases

Aside from the high population density and increased testing capacity, Dr. Herbosa said the increasing cases in Cebu City can be attributed to allowing people with symptoms to home quarantine instead of placing them in COVID-19 health facilities.

“We discovered that some of their policies include putting people under home quarantine. So they have facilities, but they decided to use home quarantine for mild, almost very weak symptoms of patients who tested positive. I think this contributed to the transmission, very fast transmission in Cebu City,” he said.

“There was confusion. In the beginning, it was indeed a policy that mild cases could be quarantined at home but if the situation at home is not ideal for home quarantine, what happens is you just increase the transmission amount of the household members,” he added.

Herbos said Cebu City has made changes in its policies and there are already community quarantine centers ready for use.

The previous quarantine measures imposed in Cebu City were not in any way wasted despite the increase in the number of the city’s cases, according to Dr. Herbos.

Herbos noted that the objective of a community quarantine is to “slow down the virus” and “increase testing and quarantine facilities.”

"Those are the two public health measures that you need to do in the period that you're preventing the virus to transmit that's why you actually do the community quarantine,” he said.