Cebu City could be on verge of achieving ‘herd immunity’ – DOH-7

Published October 13, 2020, 10:00 AM

by Minerva Newman

CEBU CITY – Cebu City may have flattened the curve, and could be on the road to achieving “herd immunity” from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) because most of the tools implemented here have significantly brought down the number of daily infection for the last three weeks and the last six months, according to Department of Health (DOH-7) Regional Director Dr. Jaime Bernadas.

Speaking at the the “Mugstoria Ta” virtual live press briefing on Monday, Bernadas said the COVID-19 situation in Central Visayas has vastly improved from being a national hotspot to being one of the country’s better managed pandemic response in the country, “if not, the best”.

As of October 12, he bared that the total number of COVID-19 cases in Central Visayas was at 22,671, with a total recovery of 20,309 and active cases of 1,008. 

“It means we are already on the verge of going down to almost less than a thousand cases and on a downward trend which is a welcome development and hopefully this trend continues,” Bernadas added during the press briefing hosted by Asst. Secretary Jonjie Gonzales of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV).

 “Once tagged as the epicenter of COVID-19, Cebu City has significantly brought down its COVID-19 cases daily, from 13 deaths per day three weeks ago to zero deaths as of October 12.  Today, 41 of 80 barangays in the City have zero COVID-19 cases for the last 14 days,” according to Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera who is also the deputy implementor of the City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for COVID-19.

Garganera pointed out that in June, Cebu City had the most number of deaths at 370. But this statistic went down to 180 in June, 22 in August, and 17 in September. And for the first 10 days of October, there has been no fatality recorded.

According to Bernadas, as far as the statistics from end of July to October 12 are concerned, the number of COVID-19 cases has also decreased significantly, and, at the start of September, the COVID-19 curve has already flattened.

Bernadas highlighted the continued massive testing, contact tracing and strict implementation of health protocols and the coordinated efforts of the government and the private sector as the key factors in the successful management of the COVID-19 crisis here.   However, both Bernadas and Garganera agreed that this should not be mean that the public could now be complacent.

“Remember that as long as there is COVID-19 and no vaccine at hand, everything is still fragile and anything can still happen, let us remain vigilant in our daily activities,” Bernadas added.

The road to achieving “herd immunity” from COVID-19 is at hand, according to Bernadas.

He cited the COVID-19 situation management of the Carbon Market area in Cebu City which was considered as the hub of daily interaction with convergence of people, coming in and out of one place.

Bernadas said, out of the 2,191 tested in Carbon Market, 47.48 percent sampled have recovered from active infection of the virus among those with asymptomatic infections. And out of 1,047, who tested positive, there were 63 who underwent polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, were actively harboring the virus, but only 33 of them were positive.

“This is very significant because more and more people have now responded to the exposures of the virus which means we are on the road to achieving ‘herd immunity.’ But does it mean there is no more second wave of COVID-19 cases in Cebu City and in Central Visayas?” Bernadas opined.

He said that it was still difficult to give an answer to that question, and it all depends on how vigilant and compliant the people are to the basic health and safety protocols being implemented at the communities.

“The most important consideration to flatten the curve and achieve ‘herd immunity’ is to really follow and strictly implement the minimum health standards in whatever we do and wherever we are.  We must all be aware on how to live with the virus,” Bernadas said.

According to Garganera and Bernadas, the Carbon model in virus infection management in Cebu City was a good gauge as to how ‘herd immunity’ could happen in a community.  The local government units, especially the barangays, must be efficient and must have the knowledge to respond, trace, isolate those COVID-19 cases in their communities as efficiently as possible.

“In Cebu City, we hunt, we chase COVID-19 to secure the safety and health protocols implementation in various areas especially those where there are groups of people in convergence,” Garganera added.