WHO experts arrive in Cebu to help in COVID-19 response

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 8) — Two World Health Organization experts have arrived in Cebu to aid medical frontliners amid the surge in COVID-19 infections in the province, local health authorities said.

Department of Health-Central Visayas (DOH-7) Regional Director Jaime Bernadas said the medical professionals came on May 7 "to assist in response activities." They will also check on the local operations center, and help in data analyses and technical inputs, he added.

Earlier, the Health regional director said the sub-national laboratory at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) is experiencing "handicaps due to the delays in the accreditation of [their] second laboratory."

Bernadas said the second facility, with a testing capacity of 400 to 500 a day, was "supposed to be functional by now." He attributed their diminished testing capacity to the delays — just as more specimens are coming in from other provinces in the region.

He added that the VSMMC will be able to conduct about 1,000 tests per day as soon as the second laboratory starts operation.

"When all is in place, we will catch up with the delays in due time," the DOH-7 chief assured.

On May 7, Police Station 6 in Barangay Sawang-Calero in Cebu City underwent quarantine, after one of its officers and two detainees tested positive for COVID-19.

In Cebu City, two areas have been placed under total lockdown due to the spike in cases of the viral illness. These are Sitio Alaska in Barangay Mambaling, and Sitio Zapatera in Barangay Luz.

Meanwhile, local jails have so far reported more than 300 COVID-19 infections.

Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella earlier told CNN Philippines that they are expecting the infected tally to climb further in the coming days, as they start conducting rapid antibody tests in the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, and Mandaue.

The entire province of Cebu now ranks second to Metro Manila among areas with the most number of cases of the dreaded disease nationwide. It has recorded a total of 1,581 infections, based on data from May 7.

In the Philippines, there are 10,343 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 1,618 recoveries and 685 deaths.

CNN Philippines' Stringer Dale Israel contributed to this report.