Covid-19 Recovery in Cebu: Real Hope for 2021
Looking back six months ago, the rate of COVID-19 recovery in Cebu was striking as it was unfavorably low. Along with this, the number of positive cases spiked dramatically. This news shook the whole province and caused much distress to everyone. However, before the nation’s attention focused on Cebu, particular areas in Luzon already caused alarm. As we neared the end of 2020, the record of cases was optimistic, which kept our hope for a better year ahead. Let us take a walk back in time from Cebu’s worst to a state of ongoing improvement.
A look back on the early months
A few months back around March, areas in Metro Manila scared the entire nation with its persistent spread of the COVID-19 virus. Quezon City made it to the topmost among Philippine areas for COVID-19 cases. As we headed on to mid-2020, Cebu outpaced Quezon City and the rest of the country in its positive cases. It drew the attention of many with Cebu ranking first. Cases rose rapidly to about 5000 compared to Metro Manila’s Quezon City with about 3000. Cebu then snatched the title of being the new epicenter of the coronavirus in the Philippines. With the situation growing worse, COVID-19 recovery in Cebu seemed a hopeless case.
On top of these, there were other hurdles that posed a challenge not only to the government but also to the ones in the front line. Hospitals ran out of beds to accommodate COVID-19 patients. Health workers as well have to isolate themselves from their families and loved ones. Discrimination against them came into existence. Despite the physical and mental exhaustion, the health workers fought on this battlefield. Like the rest of us, they too were hoping to ease the COVID-19 recovery in Cebu.
Persistent efforts for recovery
Aware of the COVID-19 surge in Cebu, President Rodrigo Duterte saw the need for aid. Instead of finding fault with the local government unit (LGU), the President himself intervened in the case handling. It was in June that he ordered Secretary Roy Cimatu, a retired general, to fly immediately to Cebu. Even with the extension of a stricter quarantine measure, Secretary Cimatu took charge of heading the COVID-19 response.
With Secretary Cimatu’s direct supervision, there was additional military and police force from other areas of the Philippines sent to the city. Part of their tasks is to ensure the strict implementation of protocols and enforce lockdowns. Their presence helped the LGU in managing the granular lockdowns imposed on barangays with the most cases. There were also stricter guidelines set by the City Mayor. These measures aimed at speeding up the COVID-19 recovery in Cebu.
The local government implemented a curfew policy from 10 PM to 5 AM. Roaming around public areas is strictly prohibited. However, there is permission given to employees within the curfew hours as long as identification or proof of work is provided.
Mandatory use of Quarantine Pass and Face Mask
Per household has only one quarantine pass used when there is a necessity to go out of the house. This includes buying essential supplies for consumption. Issuing such a pass limits the number of people in public. In addition, wearing face masks as basic protection is a must.
Public transportation guidelines
Public transportation should follow social distancing and health protocols. The government only allows vehicles to operate under certain conditions. Passengers should not exceed half of the vehicle’s maximum capacity. Most importantly, the seating arrangement should be one seat apart to avoid close contact.
Installation of checkpoints
In every checkpoint, police or military personnel take charge of checking body temperature and ensuring that people are out for essentials only. These checkpoints help ensure strict border control for those who wish entry into the city from other areas.
Finally shedding light on the COVID-19 recovery in Cebu, the government has loosened its quarantine rules in August 2020. What used to be a daily record of 200 plus cases reduced to less than 200. With this achievement, some government agencies did not see the necessity of the quarantine pass anymore. However, the City Mayor still ordered it as a requirement.
In September 2020, the record of positive cases continued to decrease to a more manageable number. This encouraged the LGU to implement a more relaxed form of community quarantine. The same protocols continue up until the present time.
As we approached December, many feared another surge of cases. Around this time, people expect dawn masses to begin. Dawn masses, or locally known as Misa de Gallo, are part of every Catholic’s annual preparation for Christmas. While it was true that cases slightly increased, this did not result in a worrisome record.
Wrapping up the year 2020, Cebu has gradually approached a recovery state. Out of 80 barangays, there are 52 of them marked as COVID-19 free. Neighboring cities have also recently gained a decline in their active cases.
Hope for 2021
What the situation looks like now in Cebu is way different from its pre-pandemic state. Face masks and face shields have become part of everyone’s daily wear outside their homes. Private establishments and workplaces follow health check and contact tracing procedures. Public transportations also continue to practice social distancing measures. For most businesses, a number of them have adapted online services. All these measures have brought light to the COVID-19 recovery in Cebu.
Despite the news of the new COVID-19 variant being more contagious, the Philippine government both at the national and local levels have already set plans. President Duterte himself expressed his confidence in a positive outlook for 2021. He stated in his New Year speech, “I am confident that all of us will see brighter days ahead because we believe in the indomitable spirit of the Filipino.”
While Cebu is on its way to better days, why not prepare for your next visit? It might not be too soon, but surely we will get there. Take the time to check the great attractions in Cebu for your future escapades. If you want to enhance your communication skills, studying English in Cebu would be a perfect choice too. There is so much to do and so much to explore. Let us make this waiting phase worthwhile and be optimistic that one day we will do these things again. Cebuanos finally see hope for 2021. We wish you see the same hope too as we journey another year.