Cebu, Davao City under quarantine despite no confirmed cases, more cities follow suit

Authorities checking people’s temperature at a Cebu City checkpoint. <i>Photo: Cebu City Public Information Office</i>
Authorities checking people’s temperature at a Cebu City checkpoint. Photo: Cebu City Public Information Office

Mayors Edgar Labella and Sara Duterte have placed their respective cities of Cebu and Davao under so-called “community quarantine” — depsite an absence of confirmed coronavirus cases in either — apparently following the lead of President Rodrigo Duterte, who ordered a lockdown of the country’s capital last week.

Based on the recommendation of the Department of Health’s Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (DOH IATF-EID), Duterte told local government units outside Metro Manila to put villages and municipalities under self-quarantine if at least two people from different households were infected with COVID-19. Provinces were encouraged to follow suit if at least two people from different municipalities or cities contracted the disease.

Neither appears to have happened in Cebu yet, as Mayor Labella noted in a briefing last night, “But you know, it is better to be preemptive and precautionary, rather than reactionary and reactive.”

Labella added that despite not having any confirmed cases, the city has an unspecified number of persons under investigation (PUI), or those displaying flu-like symptoms who came into contact with COVID-19 patients or traveled to virus-struck countries.  He added that the city also has several persons under monitoring (PUMs), or those who came in contact with PUIs or have traveled to places where COVID-19 is present but do not presently show symptoms.

“We must not wait for more cases before taking action,” Labella said in Visayan.

Under Executive Order 52, released Sunday evening, all Cebu City residents are advised to stay inside their homes, except for necessary travel, which includes work, buying groceries and medicines, and trips to the hospital. Seaports have also been closed to incoming and outgoing passenger ships, but not to cargo. Checkpoints have been set up at various entry points around the city. The quarantine will be lifted on April 14.

Read: Welcome to the community! Bohol to be put on ‘community quarantine’ for 5 days

Meanwhile, Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte has also declared a community quarantine through Executive Order No. 11, which she signed Sunday.

“I don’t think we should wait [for a patient to test positive] before we declare a community quarantine,” the mayor told Davao City Disaster Radio in an interview yesterday.

Mayor Sara said a “partial lockdown” was needed because Davao City gets a limited number of testing kits, and results take a long time to appear. Under the partial lockdown, cargo and emergency vehicles are allowed to enter and pass through the city, while public and private vehicles are prohibited from entering. The executive order does not specify when the quarantine will be lifted, but like in Manila and Cebu, residents are encouraged to stay in their homes and leave only for work, to buy necessities, or to visit the hospital.

Mayor Sara told Rappler, however, that her father is exempted from the lockdown: “Our president is our commander-in-chief, we will not prevent him from visiting places [where] his presence is needed.”

Read: 7 more dead of COVID-19, cases rise to 140 in the Philippines

Meanwhile, Mayor Celso Regencia similarly placed Iligan City under indefinite community quarantine on Sunday. The quarantine order states that visitors entering the city “for legitimate and absolutely necessary purpose[s]” will have to be checked for fever. Several businesses — including movie houses, gyms, karaoke bars, beer houses, bingo halls, and e-gaming establishments — have been temporarily barred from operating.
Mayor Regencia had previously declared the city under a state of calamity shortly after the first confirmed COVID-19 patient in Mindanao was admitted at the Adventist Medical Center, in Iligan City, before being referred to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center in neighboring Cagayan de Oro City, Mindanews reports.

Mayor Evelio Leonardia, meanwhile, has also placed Bacolod City under community quarantine for an indefinite period of time. The police and coast guard will prohibit people from traveling in and out of the city, but movement of goods and cargo through the city will not be restricted — though persons transporting them will be subject to temperature checks by authorities.

Read: Amid lockdown exodus, official tells workers from provinces to stay in Metro Manila as ‘coping mechanism’

Back in Metro Manila, where the lockdown went into effect yesterday morning, an 8pm to 5am curfew has also been imposed, prohibiting people from leaving their houses except for work and essential travel within the city.

However, several news sites have reported inconsistencies in the implementation of Duterte’s orders at several checkpoints on day one of the lockdown, with some drivers not being asked to show their IDs by frontline personnel, and not all passengers being checked for their temperatures, Rappler reports.

Earlier, authorities said people from nearby cities and provinces employed in Metro Manila can still enter the city for work, provided that they go through designated checkpoints and show their company ID as proof that they’re working in the city. They will also be checked for fever.

Several Metro Manila malls have suspended operations starting today and for the duration of the quarantine. The Department of Transportation has also suspended the use of motorcycle taxis as a mode of public transport. The agency has also ordered jeepneys, buses, and trains to space passengers one seat apart from each other.

 

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