GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 2 Sep) – Health authorities have traced at least 19 confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases that were linked to the fish port complex here.
Dr. Rochelle Oco, City Health Office chief, said Wednesday at least eight COVID-19 patients were found to have had direct exposure to the usually crowded fish markets and other portions of the fish port in Barangay Tambler.
She said two of them transmitted the disease to 11 other persons, specifically family members and medical workers.
“That’s the common denominator for these cases. They were all connected to the fish port,” she said in a virtual briefing.
A report from the Department of Health (DOH)-Region 12’s epidemiology and surveillance unit said six of the patients with history of exposure to the fish port were from this city, and one each from the municipalities of Maasim in Sarangani and Surallah in South Cotabato.
The cases from the city involved two fish port employees from Barangays San Isidro and Apopong, two brokers of fishing companies from Apopong and Bula, a manager of a pawnshop branch from Calumpang and a fish trader from Apopong.
One of the brokers, a 58-year-old male with listed exposure date last Aug. 16, infected eight other people in the process, it said.
Three of them were close family members of the patient while five were medical workers, including a doctor, a nurse, two nurse attendants and a hospital worker.
The DOH-12 report said the patient from Surallah, a fish vendor, infected two relatives, with one transmitting the disease to another family member.
The patient from Maasim town was a household helper from Barangay Colon who died due to confirmed COVID-19 in a private hospital here last Monday.
Oco said massive tracking is ongoing in parts of the city for all close contacts of the patients from the city.
She said the initial identified direct contacts were already undergoing isolation and quarantine, and closely monitored by health workers.
On Wednesday, the city government started the four-day partial lockdown of the city fish port complex to facilitate the conduct of contact-tracing activities and decontamination of its facilities.
It covered markets 1 to 3 of the fish port, which draws thousands of workers, fish traders and other stakeholders on a daily basis.
City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said the will exhaust all measures to track down all possible infections in four days.
“The fish port is a vital component of the city’s economy but we have no choice but conduct these preventive measures,” he said during the briefing.
The lockdown of the fish port, which is managed by the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority, is the first since it opened in 1997. (MindaNews)