CEBU Province and the three highly urbanized cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu are all seeing double-digit two-week growth rates in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases based on Department of Health (DOH) 7 case bulletins.
Aside from the possibility of a more contagious Sars-CoV-2 variant driving transmission, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Monday, July 12, 2021, reminded that multiple factors usually cause an increase in infections.
She said these factors include mobility, border controls and compliance to public health protocols, especially in workplaces and establishments.
She said they have verified the Covid-19 data in Central Visayas and confirmed that specific areas, like Cebu City and Cebu Province, are seeing an increase in cases.
“We still need to further verify so that we can have one message for these rising cases in Central Visayas,” she said in a press conference Monday.
Vergeire said coronavirus-positive samples from Central Visayas are regularly included among the samples that are subjected to whole genome sequencing.
The detection of the Sars-CoV-2 variant P.3 or Theta in Central Visayas early this year coincided with a spike in Covid-19 cases in the region, DOH Epidemiology Bureau Director Alethea de Guzman noted earlier.
Theta was initially included among the variants of interest by the World Health Organization, but was downgraded to the list of variants with “alerts for further monitoring.”
Based on DOH 7 case bulletins, new infections in the last two weeks from June 28 to July 11 increased by over 61 percent in Cebu Province, nearly 42 percent in Cebu City, around 46 percent in Mandaue City, and more than double, or 108 percent, in Lapu-Lapu City compared to the cases in the previous two weeks from June 14 to 27.
Because of the rising cases, the Mandaue City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will recommend to Mayor Jonas Cortes to tighten border control measures and require domestic travelers to present a negative RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test result.
“It (the policy) is not just for us (Mandaue City community) but (also) for the person (who) is traveling to the city,” said EOC head August Lizer Malate.
He said they will ask the mayor to extend his Executive Order 19, which will expire on July 24, 2021. This directive requires any person coming from Bohol and Negros Island to present a negative RT-PCR or rapid antigen test result upon arrival in the city.
He added that they do not find the necessity to implement Resolution 124-B of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which allow fully vaccinated persons to merely present their vaccination cards when they travel domestically.
Malate also said they will review other existing policies and remind the residents that the virus is still circulating.
He said Covid-19 cases in Mandaue nearly doubled in a month. From July 1 to 12, new cases averaged 18 a day. In comparison, he said there were only 10 new cases on average per day in the first half of June and 15 cases per day in the second half.
On July 11, DOH reported 23 additional cases in Mandaue. Active cases reached 340, double the 170 active cases on June 11.
Malate said the positivity rate, which measures the number of individuals who test positive over a certain period, has increased to 6.8 percent compared to below five percent in June.
He said, however, that Covid-19 cases in Mandaue City are still low and manageable compared to in March 2021, when they reported a 35 percent positivity rate. This means that for every 100 persons tested, 35 yielded positive results.
He attributed this to the vaccination campaign. According to the Visayas Vaccination Operations Center, 17,671 Mandaue residents have been fully vaccinated out of the 80,220 who received the first dose. A total of 97,891 doses have been administered.
Based on the DOH 7 case bulletins, new cases in Mandaue City reached 261 in the last 14 days to July 11, a 45.8 percent increase from the 179 cases reported in the previous two weeks from June 14 to 27.
In terms of averages, Mandaue reported over 18 cases a day in the last two weeks compared to nearly 13 a day in the previous two weeks.
A new vaccination site was opened Monday at the Ayala Center Cebu, near the Uniqlo entrance, as part of efforts to ramp up vaccinations and prepare for the arrival of more Covid-19 vaccines from the national government.
Councilor Dave Tumulak, who has been tasked to monitor the vaccination sites, said City Health Department personnel have been assigned to oversee the operations at the new site.
Other vaccination sites are located at the UC-Banilad, UC-Alcantara, Robinsons Galleria, SM Seaside City and Noah complex. Another vaccination site was opened for the upland barangays.
Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief implementer of the Cebu City EOC, said there is also a plan to open another vaccination site at the eBloc in Cebu IT Park.
Tumulak said, however, that vaccine supply is still unstable. If the vaccines allocated as first dose are used up, he said they would have to suspend inoculations again and wait for additional supply.
He noted an increase in the number of residents who are now willing to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, an improvement from the time when officials had difficulty convincing the people to get inoculated.
Based on the DOH 7 case bulletins, Covid-19 cases in Cebu City in the last 14 days from June 28 to July 11 reached 1,089, an increase of nearly 42 percent compared to the 767 cases in the previous two weeks from June 14 to 27.
The number of active cases in Cebu City crossed 1,000 again on July 9, on the same day that daily cases reverted to a three-digit level. DOH 7 reported 111 new cases on July 9 and 114 additional infections on July 10.
As of July 11, Cebu City had 1,114 active cases.
Cases in Lapu-Lapu City are also increasing, with the new cases in the last two weeks doubling, or increasing by 108 percent, to 412 from 198 in the previous two weeks from June 14 to 27.
Lapu-Lapu City had 447 active cases as of July 11, including the 64 new cases reported on that day.
In Cebu Province, new infections reached 798 in the last two weeks from June 28 to July 11 or an average of 57 per day, higher by 61 percent than the 495 cases in the previous two weeks or an average of 35 per day from June 14 to 27.
As of July 11, there were 861 active cases in Cebu Province.
Negros Oriental, on the other hand, saw its new cases peak at 343 in one day on June 11. Its daily average peaked at 209 in the week from June 6 to 12, and has been on the decline since then.
Cases in Negros Oriental are now down to an average of 69 in the last seven days compared to nearly 84 in the previous week and around 143 on June 21 to 27.
In Bohol, new Covid-19 cases are fluctuating. In the last seven days to July 11, cases averaged 106 a day, around 80 percent higher than the 59 daily average in the previous week, but 13 percent lower than the 122 daily average on June 21 to 27.
Negros Oriental and Bohol were driving the sustained increase in Covid-19 cases in Central Visayas in May and June.
As of July 11, Bohol had 1,987 active cases while Negros Oriental had 3,563 active cases. (KFD, PAC, MVI / SunStar Philippines)