COVID-19 triggers 4-day partial shutdown of GenSan fishport

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 31 August) – Portions of the fishport complex here will be closed down for four days starting Wednesday, 2 September, amid the rising cases of confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection with reported exposure at the facility.

City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said Monday the partial lockdown was aimed to facilitate the conduct of massive contact-tracing and disinfection of various facilities within the city’s fishport situated in Barangay Tambler.

Set until 5 September, he said it will cover the fishport’s Markets 1 to 3, the area frequented by thousands of fish suppliers, workers, buyers and other traders on a daily basis.

The lockdown of the 32-hectare fishport, which is run by the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), is the first in 23 years or since it opened in 1997.

“We will do everything to complete the contact-tracing and other related activities within the four-day lockdown but we have an option to extend it if needed,” Rivera told reporters.

The mayor said the move was finalized in an emergency meeting on Sunday attended by officials and representatives from the City Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases and PFDA officials.

He said they also consulted members of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc., which earlier pushed for the fishport’s temporary closure to address the emergence of COVID-19 cases.

Rivera confirmed that a number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city in the last two weeks were traced to the fishport complex.

A source said these cases involved laborers and local fish buyers and suppliers who were considered as regulars at the facility.

Last week, two fish traders from Surallah town, South Cotabato province who were traced to have visited the fishport tested positive of the disease.

Paris Ayon, acting administrative services division head of the PFDA here, clarified in a radio interview that the other sections and operations of the fishport will remain open during the four-day lockdown.

He said they will assign a skeleton workforce for their operating units as the two wharves and the industrial sector will remain open.

The unloading of frozen fish, especially tuna, supplied to local manufacturing plants and the operations of the cold storage as well as other facilities will continue, he said.

Ayon said they are currently finalizing the creation of the Fishport COVID-19 Control Force (FCCF), which will be tasked to spearhead the contact-tracing for identified cases.

He said the FCCF, which is patterned after the existing Barangay CCFs, will be composed of personnel from the City Health Office, city police, officials and volunteers from Barangay Tambler and one representative each from companies operating at the fishport.