At Supermarkets, grocery stores: City intensifies health protocols
Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - September 29, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Cebu City is heightening implementation of health protocols at supermarkets and grocery stores after it was found that 30 of those found positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days had a common history of going to these places.

Councilor Joel Garganera clarified that actual transmission in these areas has not been proven for the 30 cases but there is high probability that the patients may have contracted the virus there, considering the high concentration of people in these places.

In fact, data from the city’s Emergency Operation Center where Garganera is chief implementer showed that supermarkets and grocery stores are among the top three places where transmission occurs – the other two being households and workplaces.

“I am aware that our supermarkets and groceries have been complying with the minimum health protocols, but we must continue to re-evaluate and re-visit our protocols to check how we can improve it better,” Garganera said.

Yesterday, Garganera and the rest of the ECO team met with 33 grocery stores and supermarkets representatives to discuss ways to enforce health protocols better.

“We agreed nga they will also have their own HIPCO (Health Infection and Protection Control Officer) that will closely coordinate with the City Health officer, the EOC, and Atty. Jared Limquiaco (head of the city’s Business Processing and Licensing Office),” Garganera said.

Aside from the no face mask/no face shield, no entry policy, additional signages about the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act will be put up at supermarkets and grocery stores.

Marshals will also be deployed at supermarkets and grocery stores to ensure that shoppers follow health protocols strictly, especially the wearing of mask and face shield, and physical distancing. Designated staffers will check the accuracy of information written on contact tracing forms.

A designated data encoder and database of customers will be added for faster contact-tracing efforts. Encoders are expected to be using gloves and to sanitize regularly as even contact tracing forms can be a source of transmission of the virus.

Baskets, carts, and goods on display will be sanitized regularly, at least three times a day, on top of regular cleaning of the whole supermarket or grocery store.

Garganera said some store owners have decided to disallow senior citizens and those below 18 years old into their stores, considering these age groups are the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

If the stores will be compliant, Garganera said he will not hesitate to endorse to the mayor a possible extension of operating hours for supermarkets and grocery stores.

“If they are compliant, we will also reward them with an endorsement to the mayor that we could also increase, extend the number of hours sa ilang pag-abli,” Garganera said.

Cases

Meanwhile, Cebu City joined neighboring Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City in registering a single digit in terms of new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, September 27. The three urbanized cities only had five, three, and eight additional cases, respectively.

No new recovery was recorded, however, but the good news was that no new death was also recorded. 

Based on data from the Department of Health (DOH) - 7, Cebu City has 398 active cases and total of 9,975 cases. The total recovery is at 8,904 while the total deaths is at 673.

Mandaue City, for its part, as 213 active cases and a total of 2,433 cases. At least 2,080 have recovered in the city and 140 have died.

Lapu-Lapu City, on the other hand, has 255 active cases and a total of 2,356 cases. Up to 2,008 have recovered and 93 have died in the city.

In Cebu Province, 600 cases remain active and the total number of cases is at 5,555.

The total number of recoveries is at 4,610 and the total number of deaths is at 345.

As of Sunday, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Central Visayas is at 20,827 with 1,713 active cases; 17,853 total reported recoveries; and 1,261 total reported deaths. — Mary Ruth R. Malinao, JMO (FREEMAN)

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