GenSan sustains heightened border watch against COVID-19

General Santos City. Map courtesy of Google

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 21 October) – The city government has sustained its intensified border surveillance against COVID-19 even as the confirmed infections here have continued to decrease in the past several weeks.

Dr. Rochelle Oco, head of the City Health Office (CHO), said the border monitoring measures and activities in the city are still in place as the threats posed by the spread of COVID-19, especially its highly infectious variants, still persist.

CHO only recorded 15 new infections in the city on Wednesday, one of the lowest in over five months, with the active cases further dropping to 356 after reaching over 1,000 during the surge in August and September.

The confirmed cases in the city since last year have reached a total of 13,764, with 506 related deaths and 12,902 recoveries.

The city is among the areas identified by the Department of Health-Region 12 that are already considered as low-risk to COVID-19 based on the case growth rate in the last three weeks.

Oco said that while the local government has already eased some of the movement restrictions due to the declining cases, it cannot yet relax the border surveillance measures.

“We cannot let our guard down. It is important all the more to strengthen border surveillance even though our cases are decreasing,” she told reporters.

She specifically cited the operations of the joint Task Force Bantay Dalampasigan, which monitors the movement of people in the city’s sea borders and coastal areas.

The task force, which involves sea and land-based law enforcement units, was mainly created in August to secure the area from the entry of people from areas in Indonesia and other countries with surging cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

The city government has also maintained the checkpoints in all its entry points to monitor the entry of people from the neighboring localities and regions.

“We cannot afford somebody infected to enter GenSan because one Delta case can infect eight people,” she said.

CHO reported on Wednesday that at least eight cases of the Delta variant were already detected in the city but the patients have fully recovered.

Since March, a total of 47 cases of “variants of concern” have been confirmed in the area, with three related deaths.

Oco, the incident commander of the City Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases, said the local government has continuously enforced the proper observance of the minimum health standards in business establishments and public areas.

She said they have been also encouraging more businesses to take part in the government’s safety seal certification program.

The voluntary certification scheme affirms that an establishment is compliant with the minimum public health standards set by the government and uses or integrates its contact tracing with application.

“If we keep this up, we’ll see that our cases will really go down and probably see a better (2022) in GenSan and the rest of the region,” Oco said. (MindaNews)