Some good news for Cebu City
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - August 13, 2020 - 12:00am

I really didn’t want to talk about the COVID-19 virus, especially when a couple of months ago, a column I wrote that Cebu City has earned the indisputable reputation of being the longest lockdown city in the whole world became viral on social media. However, when President Duterte sent Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Sec. Roy Cimatu to handle the COVID-19 affairs of Cebu City, he brought in a lot of Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Forces (SAF) to help Cebu City monitor its border controls.

Last Aug. 1, after lingering with a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), Cebu City was returned to a general community quarantine (GCQ) and it seems to have finally worked. The latest report from Cebu City was that we have been able to continue our streak of recording fewer coronavirus infections with only 11 new cases and no new deaths logged as of last Monday, Aug. 10.

This report was based on the latest update of the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas that was published on its official Facebook page, that the city had a total of 9,222 confirmed cases with 1,724 active cases and the total deaths remained at 603 in the last five months and zero deaths as of Monday. Call it remarkable… but Cebuanos have finally found a way to reduce the effects of COVID-19 or we’re no longer hard headed!

Another bit of good news: Mayor Edgardo Labella, with the support of the Catholic Church, has finally agreed to open our closed churches for as long as it only allows 10 percent of the capacity of the church. If you ask me, this is a better deal than what the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) earlier allowed – only 10 people inside a church. So when the Sacred Heart Parish issued a memo giving out information on the hours of the mass with a number to text for reservations, I immediately requested a reservation for my family and me for our first mass this Sunday since five months ago.

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While Cebu City has reported a decline in COVID-19 cases, let me emphasize that the coronavirus is still with us. In fact, the son of a close friend of our family, Gerald Alcibar who was undergoing dialysis, passed away last Tuesday due to COVID-19 in Makati. May we request our pious readers to please pray for the repose of his soul.

Also we read in the news that former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. died the other day at the Manila Medical Center in Manila due to COVID-19. He was 80. This report was confirmed by Comelec spokesman James Jimenez. He would have celebrated his 81st birthday tomorrow. This was after we got the news that former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim also died. This is more than enough proof that the coronavirus is still very much around. But wearing face masks, washing hands and social distancing is one way of avoiding infection for as long as our people strictly follow these protocols.

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Meanwhile, still on the issue of the COVID-19, we learned from our social media networks that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last Tuesday that Russia has developed the first vaccine against the coronavirus. I don’t know if President Putin was making good what his government earlier reported, that Russia had hoped to launch mass production within weeks.

Russia’s pioneer vaccine candidate, developed by Gamaleya Institute, is listed as being in Phase 1, according to the latest draft landscape of COVID-19 vaccines published by the World Health Organization (WHO) on July 28. Phase 1 studies, according to the WHO, are “small-scale studies of which the primary focus is the determination of clinical tolerance and safety.” For whatever it is worth, I have totally lost my confidence with the WHO, especially when they appeared as the propagandists of the Chinese Communist Party (CPP) last January when they announced that there was no person-to-person infection with this virus. But a week later they reversed their pronouncement.

Anyway, we can only hope that the Russian Gamaleya Institute anti-COVID-19 vaccines do really work. However, we know that there are a hundred pharmaceutical companies working hard to get their vaccines done. Just to name a few, there’s Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Moderna, a US company now on its phase 3 trials, and Astra-Zeneca PLC of Oxford University, also on its phase 3 trials. Mind you, these vaccines may be available hopefully by September, which is already next month; however, these would be questionable with regards to its safety, efficacy, effectiveness and impact. We know that President Duterte wants to be the first to try it. So go ahead and try it!

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