GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 7 September) – The city’s fishport complex resumed its full operations on Monday following a four-day partial lockdown due to the emergence of confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases at the facility.
Paris Ayon, acting administrative services division chief of the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) here, said they reopened anew Markets 1 to 3 of the fishport complex to workers and traders, with stricter monitoring and enforcement of control measures.
He said the fishport’s closure, implemented from September 2 to 5, was “technically” lifted on Sunday but only a few of its clients managed to show up due to the day-long total lockdown in the entire city.
Laborers and traders aboard fish cars and private vehicles started crowding outside the fishport complex in Barangay Tambler as early as 3 a.m. to wait for its reopening.
Ayon said they scheduled the arrival and entry of people starting 5 a.m. to limit their presence inside the fishport markets, which draw thousands of people on a daily basis.
But he said the scheduling scheme was not followed as most of their clients claimed they were not aware of it.
“The overcrowding and congestion at the gate was again a challenge,” he said in a radio interview.
The official said the fishport management, which is under the PFDA, will strictly implement such measure as well as other strategies to address overcrowding at the facility, which was blamed for the rapid spread of COVID-19 cases there since last month.
More than 30 confirmed infections in this city and the neighboring provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani were so far traced to the fishport.
The city government, in coordination with the PFDA and the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc., agreed to impose the partial lockdown last week to facilitate the conduct of decontamination and massive contact-tracing activities.
As part of the new guidelines that they adopted, Ayon said workers, traders and other fishport stakeholders are now required to present medical certificates issued in the last seven days before entering the complex.
They are required to undergo medical test and submit updated certificates, preferably coming from public health doctors, every 14 days, he said.
He said they have been working with the city chapter of the Philippine Medical Association for the offering of COVID-19 screening services for fishport stakeholders and clients.
“This is for symptomatic screening. Our clients will be checked for possible (COVID-19) symptoms like colds, cough, diarrhea, body aches and difficulty of breathing,” he said.
The official said all clients should be properly registered and issued with proper identification cards carrying bar codes.
He said around 11,000 individuals were already issued with bar codes, which was aimed to properly trace their movement and activities inside the facility.
To properly enforce the standard health measures, especially the practice of safe physical distancing as well as the wearing of face mask and face shield, he said they have requested for the deployment of augmentation security personnel at the fishport.
He said they specifically coordinated with the Philippine Navy’s reservist unit here and the Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan.
The fishport’s security is being handled by 58 private security guards and assisted by a team from the Philippine National Police Maritime Group. (MindaNews)