Cimatu credits GCQ to unity
“The first order was to make some appeal to the people of Cebu to follow instructions, guidelines and to me, that was the initial stage of success,” Roy Cimatu, the designated overseer of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) in Cebu, said in a press conference yesterday.
Senate PRIB/Cesar Tomambo
Cimatu credits GCQ to unity
Mary Ruth R. Malinao (The Freeman) - August 5, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  If there was one thing that helped Cebu City’s effort to be downgraded to general community quarantine, Secretary Roy Cimatu believed it was unity.

“The first order was to make some appeal to the people of Cebu to follow instructions, guidelines and to me, that was the initial stage of success,” Cimatu, the designated overseer of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) in Cebu, said in a press conference yesterday.

Last June, President Rodrigo Duterte sent Cimatu, the current environment secretary and a former armed forces chief, to Cebu to help in addressing the rising COVID-19 cases.

“I still remember that when I came here, of course with Gen. Mel (Feliciano), that the highest daily at that time was 300 cases a day,” he said.

On Monday, August 3, there were only 27 new cases recorded in the city based on the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) update through its official Facebook page. The total confirmed cases was at 9,094, with 2,764 active cases.

The total recoveries, meanwhile, stood at 5,808 while total deaths at 522.

“A very big improvement of what we have done for Cebu City. And, I'm very thankful for the cooperation of the people in complying the minimum health standard and protocols,” said Cimatu.

“It is not a matter of attitude change, it was a matter of knowing that they have to comply (with). I saw that they were misinformed about what they should do. When they were clarified of their role, the people themselves, I pictured na nag-down na yung infection, then tuloy-tuloy na eh, and dahan-dahan lang naman, but it was worth the waiting,” he said.

Other Reasons

Another significant factor Cimatu cited for the downgrade was the combination of intensified testing, contact tracing, and lockdown.

Cebu City was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from June 16 to July 15 and modified ECQ from July 15 to 31.

Granular or localized lockdowns were also implemented in some areas in the city to contain the spread of the virus.

Areas like Sitio Eyha in Barangay Guadalupe, Balaga Drive to Sitio Cekalco in Barangay Labangon, Tuada Compound in Barangay Tisa, to name a few, were placed under granular lockdown starting July 25.

A granular lockdown means restriction is limited to a specific area like a household or several houses, a street, or a compound where residents were exposed to a person with COVID-19.

In terms of contact tracing, the city was able to mobilize 134 contact tracing teams from only five teams last April.

Next Goal: MGCQ

Mayor Edgardo Labella earlier said that contact tracing is being conducted every day.

Cimatu said efforts in containing the spread of the virus will continue in order to achieve a much relaxed quarantine status -- the modified GCQ.

“We'll not stop here. We will continue until we achieve yung modified general community quarantine which is really the goal of each Cebuano,” he said.

Labella is also hoping for the MGCQ status after the GCQ status ends on August 15.

“Let's make it as a challenge to all of us. Let us not flaunt with more reason that we should be circumspect, we should be more vigilant and we should be more alert. Because ang ECQ gamay ra man ang tawong manud, gamay ra ang tawong maglakaw-lakaw. Under GCQ perti na gyung daghana,” said Labella.

“Ang ako ganing hangyo sa mga katawhan, always adopt the attitude that we are still on ECQ so that we will be more careful... let us not put our guards down,” he added.

‘On Quarantine’ still

The mayor said there is a need to be very strict in the implementation of GCQ.

Labella recalled the first time the city was reverted back to GCQ from June 1 to 15, stating that the city has learned a "painful lesson" for the relaxing. During this time, the cases slowly surged, which made the city be placed again under ECQ for a month.

“I appeal to you. Let us inculcate into our hearts and minds the virtue of self-discipline. Disiplinahon gyud nato ang atong kaugalingon. Kay kung wala tay disiplina, kita raman sad maoy mag-antos labi na gyud kung mabalik ta atong ECQ status,” Labella told the city residents.

Labella also reminded the public to stay at home as much possible, wear masks in public places, observe physical and social distancing, and regularly conduct handwashing.

“Quarantine gihapon ta. Timan-i ninyo ha. Bisag GCQ pero quarantine gihapon,” he said. — JMD (FREEMAN)  

ROY CIMATU
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