DOH probes COVID-19 outbreak in Cebu City

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 19) — The Department of Health said Friday it has sent a team of epidemiologists to Cebu City to investigate the recent spike in the number of COVID-19 cases there.

“We sent our epidemiologists there. Let’s wait for their analysis and we will give the information to everybody,” Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire told a media forum.

Vergeire said the group, which left for Cebu City early this week, is validating ’assumptions’ that returning residents who were stranded in different parts of the country, returning overseas workers, outbreaks in jails and expanded testing led to the uptick in infections.

READ: Visayan lawmakers seek review of 'Hatid Probinsya' program amid spike in COVID-19 case

The official noted the rise in cases could be attributed to a lot of factors, including clusters of cases.

“In Cebu City, the new cases came from the community and the numbers have led to new clusters in the barangays,” she said.

The city, now considered a COVID-19 hotspot, has so far recorded 3,216 COVID-19 cases, according to the DOH tracker. Central Visayas, where Cebu City is located, posted the most number of new cases at 299 on Thursday. This is the highest number of fresh cases registered in a single day by the region.

Data from the department showed that new virus clusters were identified between June 5 and 18 in Barangay Lahug, Pardo, Sambag II, Labangon, Bulacao, Basak San Nicolas, Sambag I, Tinago and Carreta.

Vergeire said they continue to monitor different virus clusters in the country. DOH has identified at least 223 clusters nationwide.

The government has placed Cebu City back to a stricter enhanced community quarantine until June 30 to slow down the COVID-19 transmission.

Over 100 police officers from Western Visayas and Eastern Visayas will be deployed to Cebu City to enforce the quarantine protocols, Regional Director Albert Ignatius Ferro told reporters on Friday.

The Cebu City government has previously said that strict ECQ implementation will begin on June 20.

Stringer Dale Israel contributed to this report