OCTA warns vs Cebu’s reopening to tourists

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Citing the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Cebu, a fellow of the OCTA Research Group has expressed concern over the plan of the provincial government to reopen to all local tourists.

“We understand the economic considerations, but the timing (is unusual). Normally, we do it when the trend of cases is going down, not when it is going up,” University of the Philippines professor Guido David said in an interview on Teleradyo yesterday.

“If it is still going up, that is really concerning,” David said.

Data released by OCTA on Friday showed that the average daily number of COVID-19 cases in Cebu City is at 155, up from 112 in the previous week.

David said the average number of cases  in the city rose  to 165 yesterday, almost on the same level when it reverted to stricter enhanced community quarantine last year.

While hospital occupancy in Cebu City is still at a moderate 43 percent, OCTA said it could breach the critical rate of 70 percent if the current trend continues.

The group also noted high indicators in other cities in the province.

“The trends in Mandaue and Lapu- Lapu started to stabilize, but their hospital occupancy increased to 47 percent and 64 percent, respectively,” OCTA said.

Talisay logged a 73 percent increase in new COVID-19 cases while hospital occupancy rose to 59 percent.

OCTA reiterated its concern over the possibility that the more infectious UK variant is spreading in Cebu, citing patterns in other countries with confirmed cases.

“There is a possibility that the UK variant is spreading there because of the increase in the number of cases,” Guido said.

No UK variant case was detected among 60 samples from Central Visayas sequenced by the Philippine Genome Center, the Department of Health said in its advisory on Friday night.

David stressed the need to sequence more samples from Cebu to determine if there are cases of the new COVID-19 variant.

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