CNN Philippines – Published Jan 10, 2021 4:34:22 PM
Metro Manila — Officials in Cebu City are asking that stricter health and safety protocol be enforced after COVID-19 cases in the area quadrupled in just two weeks.
According to data from the Department of Health in Central Visayas, there were 81 cases as of December 27, but the numbers jumped to 331 as of January 9. New infections include several medical and other healthcare workers.
Local health officials believe the sudden rise in cases is due to gatherings during the holidays, while some cases were reported at workplaces.
Cebu City had single-digit increases in November and December, until December 29 when new infections reached 16. From January 1 to 9, the new cases ranged from 11 to as much as 54 new cases in a day.
Lower cases in November and early January allowed residents eased restrictions in health protocol.
Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, Deputy Chief Implementor of the Emergency Operations Center, said they would recommend to Mayor Edgardo C. Labella that enforcement of quarantine passes as well as curfews be more strictly implemented. Checkpoints are also being considered.
“We are trying to resuscitate our economy by trying to be lenient in some aspects of the protocols but it seems people are not being compliant,” Garganera added.
Garganera said the increase may be a reason to worry but the status is still not alarming.
“It is (only) alarming if our healthcare system is overwhelmed and cases are not being attended to,” he added.
The Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, the biggest government hospital in the region, said infections among their staff have risen.
From only 18 infections last week, the VSMMC has now recorded a total of 33 COVID19 cases, said Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH-7 spokesperson.
The infections have prompted the hospital to close their Operation Rooms Complex due to disinfection and the lack of manpower.
Loreche added that 23 of the infected staff are asymptomatic while 10 exhibited mild symptoms. All of the infected staff are admitted and isolated in the hospital.
Meanwhile, the increased number of cases has prompted officials to cancel the virtual Sinulog Festival or pre-recorded performances for January 17, with a plan to move the festivities in April in time for the 500 years of Christianity celebrations.