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Cimatu deploys barangay captains to stop COVID outbreak in Cebu City: We can bring this down

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CEBU CITY – Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu on Wednesday challenged city and barangay officials here to aim for the downgrading of the current enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to a lower risk classification.

Cimatu issued the challenge during a press briefing with Mayor Edgardo Labella, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and other officials after making rounds of high-risk barangays here, particularly Mambaling which is considered as the epicenter of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis in Cebu.

“My challenge to the barangay captains is to aspire that goal to lower the confirmed cases here,” he said in mixed Filipino and English. The cases should stop increasing in the next few days, he added.

Cimatu said he is tapping barangay captains in imposing granular lockdown on sitios or barangays with high cases of coronavirus.

With the cooperation of village officials, he said he is optimistic that the city will graduate to lower classification, depending on the aggressive enforcement of stringent quarantine protocols and guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

He revealed that he is organizing two task forces – Task Force Cebu City and Task Force Cebu Province – whose task is to assist him and the IATF-IED in implementing intensified efforts with the aim to arrest the growing number of Covid-19 cases here.

The Environment chief who was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to oversee the government interventions against Covid-19, visited Barangay Mambaling to see for himself the situation, particularly in Sitio Alaska, where the infection rate is high.

In Mambaling, he said, the coronavirus could easily spread because the houses are very close to each other.

He said he will also monitor hospital occupancy as well as the demand for more medical front-liners who can attend to the needs of the Covid-19 patients.

Labella said the “involvement of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines personnel in enforcing stringent measures would be a big factor in pursuing the ideals” in the fight against Covid-19.

“I am hoping we can downgrade to general community quarantine so that those who are now in no work no pay (that) really suffered can go back to work,” Labella said.

The city government through the City Council will pass an ordinance for the release of P500 million to be utilized to assist city residents during the second ECQ implementation.

The mayor also said Cebu City Hall is now devising a system that would ensure each household will get only one quarantine pass unlike before when a family had five passes. (PNA)