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95% of COVID-19 patients in Cebu City have no symptoms -mayor

At least 95% of the 1,749 COVID-19 patients in Cebu City are asymptomatic, according to Mayor Edgar Labella on Tuesday.

Labella made the disclosure a day after presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the government does not have enough resources for mass testing and as such, the government leaves such initiative to the private sector.

“95 percent of our COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic, and we have found them using effective and extensive contact tracing,” Labella said in a forum hosted by the Department of Health.

Labella said that the city’s contact tracers are grouped into eight teams composed of Department of Health (DOH) personnel, barangay health workers, policemen, and personnel from the city health department.

“We finish contact tracing in 24 to 36 hours. In fact, more than 10,000 people [who were exposed to COVID-19 patients] have been tested with 35,000 RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) test kits, while 8,000 others were tested with rapid-test kits,” he said.

RT-PCR tests kits are preferred by the DOH for its greater reliability, considering that rapid-test kits are only used if a person is positive for IgM or IgG.

Testing positive for IgM is a sign of active COVID-19 infection while having IgG indicates that a person has recently recovered.

“Of course, there are those who are scared to be tested, so our information drive is called Be a Hero. Because having yourself tested is not only for your benefit, but for the benefit of people whom you love and care about. You will be a hero to them,” Labella said.

Community testing is currently being conducted in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu to determine the extent of the outbreak.

The testing will cover 46,000 households, representing 10% of the total number of households in the three cities, according to Office of Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Assistant Secretary Jonji Gonzales.

“In a few days, we will be able to finish the entire testing,” Gonzales said in a televised briefing.

Likewise, Labella  assured his constituents that the city government has enough quarantine facilities for COVID-19 patients, with the city’s isolation centers having 3,638 beds.

“Our mortality rate is at .091% because we were immediately able to isolate the 95% who are asymptomatic to our barangay isolation centers,” Labella said.

Under the DOH's protocol, a COVID-19 test is only required for symptomatic persons and those who have been exposed to COVID-19 positive patients. -- with Virgil Lopez/KBK/BM, GMA News