Ormoc closes borders, won't take respiratory disease patients from outside city amid COVID-19 crisis

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2020 06:33 PM

MANILA - Ormoc City has recently closed its borders and temporarily stopped receiving patients with respiratory diseases from neighboring areas to curb the possible entry of a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) carrier, Mayor Richard Gomez said Tuesday.

The city had to fortify its defenses as the local government has no way of knowing who is a carrier of the virus, Gomez said in an interview on ANC.

"We have one person who died 5 days ago. We sent swabbing materials but up to now there are still no results," Gomez said.

The city has 66 patients under investigation and 1,812 persons under monitoring, he said.

"We're actually kinda scared because we don't know who are the affected ones. As to who really is sick or affected with COVID-19, we really have no idea," he said.

Ormoc City hospitals have stopped catering to patients with respiratory diseases due to the limited number of medical practitioners, the mayor said.

"Doctos here would not want to accept anymore patients with respiratory ailments simply because there are very few hospitals in Ormoc City," Gomez said.

"We have one Ormoc District Hospital. The governor took away all the doctors there to be deployed to [different parts of] Leyte," he said.

"I'm very much concerned because there are few doctors here. In Manila, a lot of doctors are dying. If that will happen to us then we will run out of doctors," he said.

While a massive coronavirus testing program has yet to be mounted by the national government, Ormoc City has resorted to regulating the number of people in markets and regularly sanitizing streets with a mixture of chlorine and water.

Sugarcane planters lent the city government some 6 tractors to be used as mobile sprinklers that spray disinfectants across the city, Gomez said.

"Owners of the tractors have allowed us to use them as long as they are still working... We're hoping they won't break down so they will last," he said.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the Philippines under a state of calamity to allow national and local governments to tap their respective quick response funds to address the spread of the disease, which originated from Wuhan, China.

Luzon, the country's most populated island group, has been placed on a month-long lockdown to contain the virus.

As of March 24, the pandemic has infected 552 patients in the Philippines. Of those who contracted the disease, 35 have died and 20 have recovered, while the rest are still recuperating.