Family gatherings blamed for surge of new COVID-19 cases in General Santos City | Inquirer News

Family gatherings blamed for surge of new COVID-19 cases in General Santos City

/ 08:15 PM May 24, 2021

Step up COVID-19 info drive, communicate ‘pain’ of disease, PCOO told

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Filipinos’ penchant for celebrating family milestones may just be putting everyone at risk of contracting the dreaded COVID-19, health authorities here said.

This is the reason officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on COVID-19 have been eyeing tighter health and safety measures, including the revocation of permits earlier issued to establishments for mass gathering purposes, after the daily new cases of COVID-19 registered a spike here in the last four days.


In a meeting on Friday, the IATF said the sudden surge in daily cases had been traced to family gatherings, which included celebrations of Mother’s Day, birthdays, weddings, baptism, and other events which gathered relatives here from different places.


From an average of 20 daily cases early this month and a much lower figure in the previous months, the number of daily new COVID-19 cases here more than tripled to 65 cases on Wednesday, May 19, according to the local COVID-19 monitoring unit here. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, daily new cases were pegged at 69, 68, and 63 cases, respectively.

Alarmed by the sudden rise, a group of physicians here urged local health authorities to come up with more stringent measures to avert the spread.

Dr. Fidel Peñamante, president of the Gensan Medical Society, said the local IATF also needed to strengthen its anti-COVID-19 measures and to look into the causes of the spread.

The City Health Office reported that 70 percent of the new COVID-19 cases had been close contacts of patients with earlier confirmed cases of the disease. Of the 68 new COVID-19 cases reported on May 21, for instance, 48 were close contacts of an infected patient, possibly kin or a friend, according to the CHO.

The new cases reported in the last four days added up to a total of 533 active COVID-19 cases in the city, which registered a positivity rate of 25.31 percent, as reflected in the daily COVID-19 tracker by the local IATF here.

On Sunday, all seven hospitals in the city were already at their full capacity, with 83.33 percent of the total beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, according to the report posted by the city government on its social media page. Only 69.18 percent of all patients are from General Santos City. Of the total ICU beds in these hospitals, only 89.41 percent have been occupied.


City officials earlier warned that hospitals here did not have enough ventilators to deal with a sudden spike of cases of severe COVID-19. The report, however, showed that only 41 percent of existing ventilators in hospitals were being used, so far.

Earlier, Mayor Ronnel Rivera bared reports that among families and households with COVID-19, children were among those infected. Of the 69 new COVID-19 cases reported on Friday, May 21, three were children, including a nine-month-old.

More than 50 percent of the new cases reported in the last four days were asymptomatic, which worried health authorities.

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