GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The city government has appealed to the national government to escalate its prevailing general community quarantine (GCQ) status with additional heightened restrictions due to the spike of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Mayor Ronnel Rivera said they submitted the request to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases to help contain the further surge of locally transmitted infections.
Rivera said they submitted consolidated reports on the city’s Covid-19 situation, especially the increasing average daily attack rate (ADAR) and growth rate of confirmed cases.
“We have a pending appeal so it’s now up to the IATF to interpret our data and decide on it,” he said.
The national IATF extended on Monday night the GCQ in the city and in the four provinces of Region 12 (Soccsksargen) from July 1 to 31.
Rivera said they will follow the guidelines under the current GCQ classification pending a decision on their appeal.
He said this includes the restriction on non-essential travel into the city, total liquor ban, “no movement Sundays,” market clustering, and ban on mass gatherings.
Under GCQ, outdoor non-contact sports activities may continue while indoor sports, venues, and tourist attractions are allowed only at 50 percent capacity.
Lottery and horse racing with off-track betting stations are temporarily allowed; venues for meetings, conferences, and exhibitions may open at 50 percent capacity; personal care services, such as salons, parlors, and beauty clinics can operate at 50 percent capacity; outdoor tourist attractions are allowed at 50 percent capacity; indoor dining is limited to 50 percent capacity while outdoor or alfresco dining can fully operate.
Rivera said the requested upgrade to GCQ with heightened restriction, which was set by the IATF for the provinces of Laguna and Cavite, covers additional measures on some activities and operations of businesses.
For areas under such status, personal care services are allowed to operate at 30 percent capacity while establishments that were issued with safety seals from government agencies may operate an additional 10 percent capacity.
Outdoor tourist attractions and accredited tourism establishments are allowed at 30 percent capacity, and staycation hotels may operate up to 100 percent capacity.
Food establishments are allowed to have indoor dining services at 20 percent capacity while outdoor dining is allowed for 50 percent.
The city and several other areas in the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, and Sarangani have been reeling from the increasing cases of Covid-19 in the last two months.
Dr. Carl Florida, the spokesperson of the City IATF for the Management of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases, said the city remains at “high risk” to Covid-19, with an ADAR of 10.4.
ADAR is the number of new cases in a city or province over a two-week period, divided by the population of the city or province.
From the start of the current surge last April 24 and until June 29, he said they recorded a total of 3,265 Covid-19 cases, which represent 58 percent of the 5,659 cumulative infections since last year.
Florida said the confirmed deaths during the period reached 89 or 50 percent of the 177 since the onset of the pandemic.
As of Tuesday night, the active cases in the city dropped to 669 after peaking at 708 last Sunday.
The highest daily increase of new infections is so far at 94.
A report from the City Health Office said the bed utilization rate in the city’s Covid-19 referral hospitals remains at over 75 percent, and at least 50 percent usage for both intensive care unit (ICU) beds and mechanical ventilators.
As of June 27, the Department of Health said the city has 309 available beds for Covid-19 patients, with 204 in isolation, 75 in wards, and 30 in ICU units.
It has 23 mechanical ventilators.(with a report from Allen V. Estabillo/PNA)