Despite increase in positivity rate, Cebu gov rejects recommendation of lockdown

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 20) — Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia said she will fight off moves to place the province under enhanced community quarantine despite rising COVID-19 cases and the detection of virus mutation in the area.

“Don't mess with us. We can take care of ourselves. I will not and never again accept a lockdown,” Garcia emphasized during a briefing Friday evening.

She was reacting to the recommendation of three doctor consultants of the national task force who she said are pushing to place the province under lockdown. She said the experts based this on the presence of the mutations and the quick spread of the virus in the area.

Garcia said these experts also recommended to Health chief Francisco Duque III to prevent Cebu residents from going out of the island, which was rejected by the secretary.

Garcia did not name the three consultants but warned she will disclose them if they continue to insist a lockdown in Cebu.

According to the latest report of OCTA group, the positivity rate of some areas in Central Visayas has exceeded 10%. For one, Cebu City’s positivity rate remained high at 15%, while its attack rate was at 18.21%. This is despite a slowdown in the spread of the virus, with a reproduction number of 1.54 and hospital occupancy at 52%.

Positivity rates of Lapu Lapu, Mandaue, and Talisay, in Cebu were also high at 14%, 20%, and 16%, respectively. Hospital occupancy in these areas, except for Mandaue, remained high as well at around 70%.

OCTA said these trends indicate that the pandemic is not yet under control.

The governor noted that even with rising cases, Cebu Province is managing the situation through existing protocols while the health care system is not overwhelmed. No additional protocols will also be imposed despite the presence of the mutation.

As these develop, Garcia said Cebu will officially open for domestic tourists on Tuesday, February 23. A meeting with industry stakeholder will be held prior to the said date.

She said there will be no more tests required for visitors but a valid medical certificate issued by a doctor. Other requirements include pre-booking with their accommodations, she added.

Affordable packages will be also made available for travelers, she said.

Meanwhile, OCTA said the overall trend on the country and the capital region is generally flat, with the reproduction number in Metro Manila increasing to 1.13 over the past week that signifies a slight uptrend in new infections. On the other hand, positivity rate of the region remained low at 4%.

“Over the past seven days (February 13 to 19), the NCR had an average of 430 new Covid-19 cases per day, up 16% from the previous week average of 370 new cases per day,” the report read.

The group added that some LGUs also exhibited spike in new cases that may be due to the celebration of Chinese New Year and Valentine’s day, but the existence of a COVID-19 variant cannot be ruled out as well.

CNN Philippines correspondent Dale Israel contributed to this report.