Massive public information campaign drive down to the 22 barangays in this southern city of Cebu province is cited as key to battling the continuing health crisis due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, as early case reporting will stave off the spread of transmission through aggressive contact tracing efforts.
Mayor Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas of Talisay City implemented four key strategies to increase substantial awareness and understanding about the deadly coronavirus disease, pointing out the importance of information and education to solicit community cooperation and support.
“One big challenge is that people are afraid to report if they experience onset of symptoms because of discrimination, until the symptoms get worse,” said Gullas during the daily Network Brieifng on COVID-19 anchored by Sec. Martin Andanar of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
Gullas said they have printed pamphlets on the basic facts about COVID-19 and how one can prevent from being infected by practicing the minimum health standards recommended by the Department of Health such as frequent handwashing, wearing of face mask when out in public places, and physical distancing of at least one meter apart, as all these can help avert the spread of transmission.
“We are also holding record in the inner sitios to ensure that people in interior areas will learn and know what to do and to immediately report in case of symptoms,” said Gullas.
Using a network of tricycle drivers, the neophyte mayor also said they asked them to post printed tarpaulins in their tricycles as they roam around the city, bringing the messages down to the streets.
Lastly, Gullas said they are going high in maximizing the use of social media to disseminate and educate their constituents about COVID-19.
“I have ordered the barangay captains to remain vigilant and inform the residents in their respective areas not to wait for three days before reporting the symptoms. Any initial symptom must be reported immediately so we can do a swab test right away, isolate the person prior to the result of the test, and then do the contact tracing,” said Gullas.
The Talisay City government has entered a memorandum of agreement with schools to become isolation centers as necessary.
There are 208 COVID-19 active cases in the city as of July 7, 2020, as Gullas revealed there are 27 cases inside the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Talisay City.
“From March to June, we had zero case inside the BJMP Talisay City. But now, we have 27 cases involving persons deprived of liberty as well as jail personnel,” said Gullas, adding that 30 more have been swabbed yesterday and still awaiting results.
On hopes that the Talisay City’s status will further be downgraded from General Community Quarantine (GCQ) to Modified GCQ on July 16, Gullas said he will just take it one day at a time and will leave the decision to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
“We will just follow the classification that will be announced by the IATF,” said Gullas.
As to reopening the local economy, the local chief executive said he is in constant communication with the local business sector, and that as soon as classification is announced for the city, he is ready to move forward and work with the local business sector to pump prime economic activities.
What is important now is that we do active early case finding, swab, isolate and contact trace as these are very critical to stem the tide of cases, said the first-term mayor.
On an endnote, Gullas expressed full support to the national government and the President, adding that “it is a challenge but together with the national government agencies and the national government officials, hopefully we can end this soon and hopefully go to a new normal.” (fcr/PIA7)