GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 23 May) – Residents here may just have to forgo celebrating family milestones as part of an effort to fight the spread of the dreadful coronavirus (COVID-19).
Authorities today reported that all seven major hospitals in the city are already 100 percent full, 83.33 percent of which are COVID-19 cases. Of this number, 69 percent are from this city while the rest are from nearby towns in South Cotabato and Sarangani.
A COVID-19 monitoring report says that 89.5 percent of the 23 ICU beds are now in use while the only 14 mechanical ventilators in the city, 42 percent are being used.
Officials have already considered tighter health and safety measures, including the revocation of permits earlier issued for mass gatherings after daily new cases of infection doubled since four days ago.
On Wednesday last week, the local health monitoring unit listed new cases of COVID-19 at 65, another 69 new cases on Thursday, another 68 on Friday and 63 on Saturday. Total active cases now stand at 533. Previous to May 19, the numbers were hovering at only over 20 daily new cases.
Apparently alarmed by the new development, a group of physicians here urged local health authorities to come up with more strict measures to avert the seemingly fast spread of the coronavirus in the city.
Dr. Fidel Peñamante, president of the Gensan Medical Society, said the local Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious diseases (IATF) needs to further strengthen its anti-COVID-19 measures by first looking into how the coronavirus appears to be spreading fast.
In a meeting Friday by the IATF attended by different sectors, the sudden surge in daily cases were “contact traced” to family gatherings over the past weeks, including Mother’s Day celebration, birthdays, weddings and baptism events which normally gather relatives from other places to celebrate their milestones.
It was noted that 70 percent of the new cases COVID-19 in the city were close contacts of earlier confirmed cases. A report by the City Health Office said 48 of the 68 new cases on May 21 were close contacts of an infected patient, possibly a kin or friend.
Earlier on, no less than Mayor Ronnel Rivera bared that he received reports from health units about transmission among families and households, infecting even children.
Among the children infected is a nine-month old. Notably, 54 percent or 288 of the new cases, as of May 22, are asymptomatic, the report said.
Records of the Department of Health bare that General Santos hospitals have 308 available beds for confirmed and probable patients, 225 in isolation facilities, 60 in wards.
On loose talks about a possible quarantine reclassification of the city, city administrator Arnel Zapatos said they are not considering at the moment recommending a reclassification of the city’s current modified general community quarantine status.
The local government here still hopes that the current No-Movement-Sunday and nightly six-hour curfew being implemented until May 31 may significantly lessen the cases.
A new and more strict quarantine guidelines, including a clear definition on a ban on mass gatherings, is expected to be out on Monday. (Rommel G. Rebollido / MindaNews)