ILOILO CITY, Aug. 14 (PIA) -- The Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) will bring Cebu's effective COVID-19 response measures to the cities of Bacolod and Iloilo to help them manage the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
OPAV Assistant Secretary Jonji Gonzales announced that they are planning to collate all the best practices adopted by the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu in their fight against the health crisis and put them into a manual or playbook, said a an OPAV's media release.
The OPAV aims to make this available to other local government units (LGUs) in the Visayas to guide them in their mitigating measures against COVID-19.
During the "Mugstoria Ta" program, OPAV's official virtual talk show aired on its Facebook page and hosted by Gonzales, officials from the Cebu's major tri-cities shared what they have done to bring down the number of COVID-19 cases in their respective localities.
Chief of staff lawyer Mary Rose Lubino of Cebu City mayor Edgardo Labella attributed the city's progress in containing the virus to the creation of cluster clinics, barangay isolation centers, and quarantine facilities; augmentation of contact tracing teams; and widespread testing.
"In Cebu City, our biggest game-changer is our ramped up contact tracing teams, which are now at 130 teams, to trace all possible first-level contacts," Lubino said.
Despite that the city has now gradually reopened its economy, vigilance is maintained especially that there's already increased mobility of people, she said.
"Although we are seeing a downtrend and our cases are now manageable, we should never be complacent. Now is the time to be vigilant with the increasing mobility," she explained.
Lubino said the city government is now doing data management to document everything it has done to address the pandemic.
For his part, lawyer August Lizer Malate, head of Mandaue's Emergency Operations Center (EOC), stressed the establishment of an EOC has helped the city to focus its efforts to address the COVID-related concerns.
The city's EOC is composed of different teams with different functions: contact tracing team, testing and diagnostic team, patient management team, logistics and management of the dead team, and the data management team.
Malate said Mandaue learned the idea of adding the data management team to the EOC from Gen. Melquiades Feliciano, the IATF deputy implementor for the Visayas.
"These are our dedicated teams who are going to implement the national directives to address the pandemic: isolate, test and treat," he said.
The data management team is centralizing the city's data system and is made up of the surveillance and validation units. The latter is responsible for verifying the data before releasing it.
He said augmenting data transparency has also helped in making the city's residents informed with the help of massive information dissemination.
A widespread information drive has also become a key factor in Lapu-Lapu City's virus response, according to city administrator lawyer Danilo Almendras.
"We need not to be complacent. We continued our information dissemination by tapping our tricycle drivers and giving them honorarium. We've also done forums in various barangays regarding the risks of COVID-19," Almendras said.
The city government has also implemented various legislations to impose the strict implementation of quarantine protocols, particularly the mandatory wearing of masks.
"We also implemented some novel ideas like having a roaming casket to remind people of the risks of contracting the virus," he added.
Gonzales, who also serves as OPAV's special concerns officer for Western Visayas, said these practices will be relayed to other LGUs in the Visayas, particularly Bacolod and Iloilo.
He said COVID-19 cases in Bacolod and Iloilo cities were on an uptrend following the repatriation of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) there.
Based on August 13 data from the Department of Health in Western Visayas, Region 6 has a total of 1,320 active cases, majority of which are LSIs, ROFs, and authorized persons outside their residences. However, health authorities have observed an increase in local transmission.
The OPAV is also eyeing to share the guidelines of the Project Balik Buhay (PBB), a private-public collaborated economic recovery roadmap it has initiated, to the other areas in the Visayas that are now reopening their economies.
Cebu's major tri-cities are now adopting the guidelines set by the PBB particularly on conducting random testing in the workplace as they restart economic activities.
This is to ensure the safety of workers and allow the businesses to safely reopen. (JBG-PIA6/With report from the OPAV Spox Titus Borromeo)