With unified interventions put in place, the head of the government’s response against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has expressed optimism that Cebu City will graduate to general community quarantine (GCQ) by the end of July.

Environment Secretary and Cebu COVID-19 response overseer Roy Cimatu revealed his upbeat assessment as he and other officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) met with the business community in Cebu City.

Cimatu told businessmen that the IATF and the National Task Force for COVID-19 are implementing all possible measures to address the coronavirus situation and at the same time work for the “breathe of life into its economy”.

“I am expecting number of cases will go down in Cebu City.”

“We are making progress now because of contact tracing. I am expecting na bababa (number of cases will go down in Cebu City). So, hopefully by the end of the month, we’ll go down to GCQ,” the environment chief said.

The Cebu City government headed by Mayor Edgardo Labella has deployed teams of swabbers to 80 barangays.

With the IATF’s promising outlook for the city, business leaders welcomed the environment head’s pronouncement.

“Businesses are now more health conscious and we are better equipped this time.”

“What you said, sir, is good news. Businesses are now more health conscious and I believe we are better equipped this time (for reopening),” said Felix Taguiam, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president.

Taguiam expressed optimism that the city’s economy, which has been severely affected by the pandemic, will bounce back.

He admitted that many business owners are reeling from the negative impact of the public health crisis.

“Most of the business owners in the City are traders. The Chamber has 391 members, and right now I already received 92 requests for closure,” Taguiam stressed.

Meanwhile, Melquiades Feliciano, IATF-Visayas chief implementer and Cimatu’s assistant in Cebu, said the inter-agency task force will review the “Project Balik Buhay” of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV).

A joint initiative of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, Department of Health (DOH)-Region 7, local government units in Cebu and the private sector, the project aims to “gradually reopen the community through a calibrated, scientific, and evidence-based transition from ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) to GCQ.”

“We will meet with the business sector to explore how the IATF can integrate this program into our policy direction, so that the needs of the communities, especially the workers whose jobs were greatly affected by the pandemic, can be addressed,” Feliciano said.

Dino said the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas will work with the IATF and the business sector in laying down measures for a possible transition towards GCQ by the end of July


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