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Gov. Garcia questions Alert Level 2 status in Cebu

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has questioned the government task force's decision to keep the province under COVID-19 Alert Level 2, Unang Balita reported on Tuesday.

According to Garcia, the IATF — or the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases — has no authority to place Cebu under Alert Level 2.

The IATF on Sunday said it has placed 26 areas, including Cebu province, under Alert Level 2 from April 15 to 30, 2023 as part of the COVID-19 response.

In a statement later on Sunday, however, the Department of Health — which leads the IATF — clarified that the alert level for these 26 provinces and cities were not escalated from Alert Level 1, adding that the Alert Level 2 status has been in effect in these areas since June 2022.

"While these areas have reached low risk classifications for cases and utilization rates, these have vaccination rates lower than 70% of the target total and population and/or 70% of the total A2 population (senior citizens). Meeting these targets will allow these areas to be de-escalated to Alert Level 1," the DOH said.

It was not the first time Garcia clashed with the IATF. Last year, she issued an ordinance making face mask use optional in outdoor and well ventilated areas in the province even if the IATF had yet to allow it. —KBK, GMA Integrated News