Cebu City Health Department covid busters (photo from CCHD fb page)

CEBU City, Philippines – – In today’s, June 30, 2020 press briefing, City Attorney and Mayor Edgardo Labella spokesman Rey Gealon announced that 69 Cebu City government employees that include front-liners were tested positive of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Four of them expired, including one of Cebu’s great statesmen and current city councilor Antonio Cuenco. According to Gealon, the mayor was deeply disheartened and reiterated to obey the protocols, stay at home order and go out only to buys essential needs like food and medicine.

The City Government employees were infected with COVID-19 are 12 from the City Health Department, 19 from the ambulance services, 36 from barangay health offices, and two from other offices.

Most of them are those who conducted rapid and swab testings, did contact tracing, and responded to suspected and positive COVID-19 cases. Gealon also announced the death of former acting City Treasurer, Arlene Rentuza, but no confirmation yet if she had died of coronavirus infection-related.

Although the virus is now affecting the City Hall, Gealon assured that the government operations will continue and workers will carry on with their jobs to serve the residents.

The city is implementing strict health protocols since the start of the pandemic will still be observed. These include temperature checking by using thermal scanners, alcohol and other disinfectants in all restrooms and strategic points in the City Hall building, implementation of skeleton workforce and alternative work arrangements, distribution of vitamins and other forms of assistance to employees. City Government workers in the frontlines get daily hazard pay of P500 and financial aid in case of hospitalization and death.

As to the QR Pass concerns and complaints, Gealon stressed that the City Administrator’s Office is ready to receive complaints on the distribution of quarantine passes. He reminded barangay officials to distribute the passes, even if they believe there aren’t enough for households in their jurisdiction.

He said there is already a directive to PNP members and force multipliers manning checkpoints to accept passes bearing the name of a compound, condominium, subdivision, or community in places where not all households can’t get one.

The alphanumeric sequence on the quick response (QR) code makes each pass unique and people risk getting penalized if they produce fake ones.

On possible ECQ extension, Gealon also assured that Cebu City is ready for it. Recently, the City Council has approved a supplemental budget of P1. 9 Billion and set aside P500 million for the COVID-19 response.

The City has also received assistance from the National Government in the form of personal protective equipment (PPEs) as well as the deployment of additional nurses and doctors from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and military personnel to help strictly implement ECQ regulations.

A total of 200,000 sacks of rice, canned goods, and other essential supplies were recently distributed to the different barangays, Gealon added.

Meanwhile, stiff penalties are being prepared against ECQ violators in Barangay Calamba caught on video holding a street party and in Sitio Alumnos, Barangay Basak San Nicolas who held a religious procession despite the prohibition on mass gatherings. (RCM from PR of Cebu City PIO)