GenSan under stricter curbs amid spike in COVID cases | Inquirer News

GenSan under stricter curbs amid spike in COVID cases

RESTRICTING MOVEMENT A tricycle is checked by policemen manning a control point set up in General Santos City to prevent residents from crossing one barangay cluster to another as the city imposes tighter quarantine restrictions. —ROMMEL G. REBOLLIDO

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, South Cotabato, Philippines — The local government on Tuesday imposed stricter quarantine restrictions in this city until June 30 after COVID-19 infections continued to increase in the past two weeks.

Mayor Ronnel Rivera noted that the infections rose despite entry restrictions for nonresidents since May 8. The city, for a month, will be under a general community quarantine (GCQ), a notch up from its current modified GCQ (MGCQ).


“What’s alarming is that our cases are not decreasing and the cases around us are going up. Our hospitals and health-care facilities are now full,” Rivera said.


As of May 24, the Department of Health (DOH) recorded 560 active cases in the city, up 120 percent from 254 on May 11. Five weeks ago, this was only 76. From May 18 to May 24, 369 new infections were recorded in the city.

Hospitals full

According to the local government, the city’s hospitals are already full with COVID-19 patients accounting for 83 percent of admissions.

Of the COVID-19 patients admitted in hospitals, 69 percent are from the city while the rest are from South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces.

The local government said 89.5 percent of 23 intensive care unit beds are in use while only one of 14 mechanical ventilators, used for severely critical patients, are available.

“We cannot risk a possible collapse of the health systems capacity of the city because that will put the whole city and the nearby provinces in jeopardy,” said Dr. Rochelle Gajete-Oco, head of the local Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19.

From May 25 to June 30, shopping malls will be closed except for groceries and supermarkets and other essential shops. Entertainment joints and cockpits are not allowed to operate.


Eateries and restaurants are only allowed to serve take-out orders and no dine-in services, said city administrator Arnel Zapatos.

A liquor ban will be in effect until June 30.

However, up to 10 people are allowed to attend wedding and baptism ceremonies.

Zapatos said the city’s 26 villages will be clustered for scheduled market days twice a week. Banks will also follow a similar schedule.

Checkpoints will be set up to prevent people from moving from one cluster to the other.

‘Code red’

In Cagayan de Oro City, Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), the region’s main COVID-19 referral hospital, has cut back on providing general medical services to devote 50 percent of its capacity to coronavirus patients.

Dr. Jose Chan, NMMC director, issued a “code red” declaration as COVID-19 admissions kept rising, mostly from the regional capital Cagayan de Oro City which has been battling a surge of infections for seven weeks now.

As of May 23, the 385-bed capacity NMMC was attending to 139 COVID-19 patients, almost all of them from Cagayan de Oro.

The region’s COVID-19 task force already asked the national government to elevate its classification from MGCQ to GCQ to curb the rise of infections.

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who is from Bukidnon province, also made a similar call on Monday, saying the region’s hospital system has been under great pressure.

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Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno earlier admitted that the city’s hospital system “had been burdened” because of the rising cases.


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