Why Ormoc City remains COVID-19 free, according to its mayor Richard Gomez

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 21 2020 12:37 PM | Updated as of Apr 22 2020 01:48 AM

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MANILA – Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez is attributing the coronavirus disease-free status of his locality to its decision to close down its borders very early on as the country battles the pandemic.

Speaking to ANC on Tuesday, Gomez said they started to be strict in allowing entry to the city on March 13 even before a Luzon-wide lockdown was declared by the national government.

“It’s been over a month already since the time we closed it. We’ve been very strict in allowing people to enter Ormoc City,” he said. 

“I think this infection will not end anytime soon. There’s a very clear indication that we will continue our closing down of border control and our quarantine control in Ormoc City.”

When asked if they have been conducting mass testing, Gomez said: “Because of limited availability of testing kits, what we test are the ones being checked by our doctors. As of yesterday, 17 PUIs were tested and thank God, the 17 came out negative.”

Gomez said the local government has also set up its own isolation hospital and has been stringent in receiving patients with respiratory diseases from neighboring areas.

“Our neighboring towns have declared already that there are deaths because of COVID. We have five major borders in Ormoc City. In all of those border areas, we’ve been very strict. The PNP and the Philippine Army have been there 24/7 including medical staff, nurses,” he said.

“We only allow entry in Ormoc City if people need emergency operations, if they’ll be giving birth. For those patients complaining of respiratory ailments, they need to get a doctor’s clearance from our City Health Office,” he added.

Despite this, Gomez assured that supplies get to essential stores in Ormoc City unhampered.

To continue this situation in the area, Gomez reiterated that it’s important for his constituents to strictly follow protocols imposed by authorities.

“We cannot see our enemy. It’s a difficult kind of war this time. But what will save us now really is the discipline coming from people. If only people will follow what the authorities are saying – social distancing, stay at home, don’t linger with people – there’s a big chance the infection curve will go down,” he said.

The entire Luzon, home to about half of the country's 100 million people, is under lockdown until April 30 to contain the pandemic.

Nationwide, the Philippines has so far recorded 6,087 cases of COVID-19, with 516 recoveries and 397 deaths.