‘Effective’ so far, Health official says of ECQ in Cebu

The implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Cebu City is so far "effective" following the drop in case positivity and mortality rates, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega announced Thursday.


Vega however maintained that Cebu City must continue to improve its pandemic response and healthcare capacity to combat the spread of the illness.

Cebu City is the only place in the country under ECQ, the most stringent form of lockdown imposed by the government, due to recent spike in coronavirus cases. The ECQ status of Cebu City, initially enforced in mid-June, has been extended by President Duterte until July 16. The city has so far recorded more than 7,000 cases of coronavirus.

"Maganda naman ang nangyari sa ECQ (The implementation of the ECQ is good)," Vega said during a televised press briefing when asked about the health update on Cebu City.

"Bumaba na ang rates ng kanilang positive dito sa Cebu dahil sa ECQ at saka mayroon na rin decreasing trend sa kanilang mortality rates so effective ang ECQ dito sa Cebu right now (The rate of positive cases has dropped in Cebu because of the ECQ and there is a deceasing trend in the mortality rates so the ECQ in Cebu is effective right now)," he said.

Vega said they are now preparing Cebu City for the possible opening of its economy by stepping up its capacity of hospitals in case of another surge in cases. He cited the importance of networking between the public and private hospitals for proper referral of COVID patients in need of medical attention.

Private hospitals should at least allocate a minimum 20 percent of their beds for COVID patients, and "10 percent additional if there is a surge," according to Vega.

At the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, the main COVID referral facility in Cebu, said they have advised the hospital management to ensure more than 30 percent allocation of COVID beds. He added that the hospital strategy involves increasing to 50 percent to 60 percent the number of COVID wards to accommodate patients.

"Kayang-kaya naman nito dahil mayroon silang sapat human resources at saka equipment na puwedeng makapagbigay ng medical attention sa critical at severe cases (They can do it because they have adequate human resources and equipment that can provide medical attention to critical and severe cases),” said the former head of the Southern Philippines Medical Center.

"So kung ano mana nangyari noong nakaraan, ito ay iko-correct para magkaroon ng better response and capacity ang Cebu City at matugunan ang severe at critical parties (So whatever happened in the past, we will correct this so Cebu will have a better response and capacity to address severe and critical cases)," he said.

Asked if lockdown can be relaxed in Cebu City after July 15, Vega said it was "too early" to determine the matter.

He said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) will discuss whether or not to downgrade the city's quarantine classification if there will be any progress or improvement in its coronavirus situation.

In a meeting with President Duterte last Tuesday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Cebu City has become a place of high risk of infection due to its fast cash positivity rate and high critical care utilization rate. Duque, however, said they intend to report to the President next week about the "downward trend in the number of cases."

Duterte has deployed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to oversee the coronavirus response in the city after receiving reports some Cebuanos have flouted the health protocols.