MANILA – Residents of Cebu City who got infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) will no longer be allowed to undergo home quarantine.
In a radio interview on Sunday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, vice-chairperson, of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said many residents resort to home quarantine but this is often violated, leading to community transmission.
“Dapat wala munang home quarantine, lahat ng positive ay ilalagay sa facilities. Pag naka-home quarantine yan, maraming violation yan at hindi talaga yan maipatutupad ng maayos, dapat talaga i-extract mo ang lahat ng positive, ilagay natin sa isolation facility. (No more home quarantine for now. All people found positive should be brought to facilities. There are many violations during home quarantine and protocols cannot be implemented strictly so you have to extract all those who are positive and bring them to isolation facilities),” he said.
Año said Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella is “very supportive” of the measure as the city government is also utilizing all of its resources to improve the city’s Covid-19 situation.
Año also cited the need for stricter implementation of checkpoints and health protocols as many residents do not wear face masks and do not observe physical distancing.
“Nagkaroon sila ng isang priority na sana buksan ang economy pero at the end ay dumami yung movement at dumami rin yung (rate of) contamination. (They had one priority which is to open the economy but at the end of the day, the movement, as well as the rate of contamination, increased),” he said.
Quoting Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu who is leading the fight against Covid-19 in the city, Año said he is confident that the Covid-19 situation in the city will improve in two weeks “if everyone will cooperate.”
Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force Covid Shield, said most of the residents now stay at their homes and have refrained from going out.
“We are confident that the compliance of our kababayans in Cebu City to quarantine rules will be sustained especially now that we have started the deployment of SAF (Special Action Force) troopers in strategic areas of the city,” Eleazar said in a statement.
Upon the approval of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Gamboa, at least 150 SAF troops were deployed in the city over the weekend to help enforce the ECQ rules.
Eleazar said a command and control vehicle was already deployed in a strategic area in Cebu City where police team supervisors regularly meet for adjustments in security and ECQ implementation under the guidance of Brig. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro, the Regional Director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) and concurrent commander of the Regional Joint Task Force Covid Shield-Central Visayas.
“Our SAF commanders, soldiers, and personnel of the Police Regional Office-7 are now working closely to monitor the compliance of Cebu City residents to the ECQ rules,” Eleazar said.
Eleazar said the PRO-7 has also deployed its drone patrol units composed of 11 drones remotely piloted by personnel of the Cebu City Police Office to monitor compliance and shoot videos of areas where weak points and potential areas of quarantine violations would occur.
“The purpose of drone deployment is that if ECQ violations are observed in a particular area, troops will be immediately sent there to enforce the quarantine rules,” said Eleazar.
Eleazar explained that the rationale behind the strategic deployment of SAF commandos and soldiers is to intensify visibility to compel residents to stay home and for those who are allowed to go out to observe the minimum health safety protocols such as wearing of face masks and observing physical distancing.
“We have no problem with most people of Cebu City who have been doing their share in the fight against Covid-19 by staying at home and avoiding unnecessary travel. (Our problem) are those hardheaded people who disregard these quarantine rules despite knowing the risk of infection to them, their family, and their community,” Eleazar said.
Eleazar also clarified misconceptions and disinformation that the deployment of SAF troopers and soldiers is meant to bully residents of Cebu City.
“Your SAF and soldiers may be the toughest but they are also human beings who have compassion to those who deserve it. They are known to strictly follow orders and among their orders is to exercise maximum tolerance. In return, we ask the people of Cebu City to reciprocate this good gesture by observing the quarantine rules and respecting the people who enforce these rules,” Eleazar added. (PNA)