MANILA– "Stringent" coronavirus restrictions need to be enforced in Cebu City, the chief implementer of the country's pandemic response said Monday, following a spike in infections in the Visayan urban hub.
Severe COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Cebu City even after it has been under strict lockdown for two weeks already, National Task Force on COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said.
"Nakikita namin talaga kailangan pa ng stringent restrictions. Kasi na-find out namin na noong nag-ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) sila, hindi ito properly implemented," he said during a Palace press briefing.
(We found out that stringent restrictions are still needed because the enhanced community quarantine was not properly implemented.)
The rise in infections prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place Cebu City under the strictest lockdown at the start of the month to control the transmission of the disease.
He also assigned Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, a former military chief, to oversee the quarantine of the city that is home to 900,000 people.
Authorities are currently monitoring more than 19 villages to ensure that COVID-19 restrictions are observed, Galvez added.
Due to the rising number of infections, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Monday said Cebu City is the new epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines.
The city tallied 131 new cases as of Sunday compared with Metro Manila's 356 new cases from 17 local government units, Año said.
The number of virus cases in the city rose due to the public's "complacency, eagerness to resume economic activities immediately" and the return of Filipino migrant workers and residents stranded from other areas, according to Año.
The enhanced community quarantine in Cebu City is set to expire on Tuesday with fresh restrictions expected to take effect on Wednesday.
Philippines recorded on Monday 985 additional cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), 643 of which are considered “fresh."
It is the 3rd highest number of fresh cases reported in a single day since the Department of Health re-classified new cases on May 29. This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the outbreak to 36,438.
Of the 643 fresh cases, which refer to those whose test results were released within the last 3 days, 223 are from the National Capital Region, 106 are from Region 7 or Central Visayas and 314 are tagged as “Others," which refer to cases from other regions or those without location information.
– With reports from Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News