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Exec: Eating, smoking areas likely sources of contagion

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is working with the Cebu City government in enforcing the minimum health protocols in work eating places and smoking areas where transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) possibly occurs.

This was after Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) chief implementer for the Visayas, Melquiades Feliciano, warned Cebuanos on the increased transmissibility of the newfound “mutations of concern” of Covid-19.

“The result, the new virus now is more contagious based on our data. Only for February data as compared to the data last year, in June, July, and August, there is a huge difference of transmissibility. This data does not represent or interpret the whole community as it’s only among individual or specific Covid patients, who are considered as high prevalence individuals,” Feliciano said in a virtual presser yesterday.

Lawyer Jared Limquiaco, head of the Business Permit and Licensing Office, said they consider pantries and common smoking areas in workplaces as “areas of concern” as people remove their masks to eat or smoke, and talk with one another.

Limquiaco urged the management of establishments with smaller eating places to set up a system of control to avoid transmission of the novel coronavirus through talking while eating.

“They could spend little time in the pantry or take their meal in their cubicle and avoid sharing the food with co-workers,” he said in Cebuano.

Last week, the BPLO traced 86 establishments with employees who tested positive for Covid-19, he said.

He said many of the establishments are business process outsourcing (BPO) companies and banks.

Feliciano said that apart from transmissions in workplaces, there is a high prevalence of infection in the household after family members are exposed to Covid-19 positive individuals.

“There was a positivity of 10 to 12 percent. Right now, in this month of February, I say it again, it is consistent to reach 20 percent which showed double contagion,” he said.

Last year, an average of 20 individuals with symptoms of Covid-19 visited the clinic established by the EOC daily, but Feliciano said the current number of individuals who want to be swabbed has reached an average of 52.

He said the positivity rate in the capital city has logged a “more than 200 increase”.

“So I’m saying this because the general public should be warned right now. As mentioned, our EOC is really active but of course, our EOC can only do so much. This should be everyone’s responsibility. It’s a shared responsibility of everyone,” Feliciano said, adding that the most important to do in winning the fight against Covid-19 is to wear a face mask, maintain physical distancing, and wash hands, among others.*PNA

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