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Richard Gomez: Ormoc's COVID-19 cases rose as quickly as returnees sent to provinces

After being free of COVID-19 for most of the time since parts of the country were placed on community quarantine in March, Ormoc City was tagged this week as one of the emerging hot spots in the spread of the coronavirus in the Visayas.

According to Lei Alviz's report on "24 Oras", Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez said this developed after the national government agencies started bringing hundreds, including locally stranded individuals, back to their home provinces.

The Duterte administration in May started its Balik Probinsya program as part of the measures to deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Mabilis 'yung pagdami kasi mabilis din 'yung pagpapadala nila ng mga returnees, 'no, coming from Manila and Cebu," Gomez told GMA News.

Gomez said there would have been no problem had there been proper coordination.

However, the non-stop return of individuals soon exceeded the capacity of the city's quarantine facilities and isolation areas.

Ormoc along with Southern Leyte and Samar have been declared as emerging COVID-19 hot spots. -

"Ilan 'yung darating in particular para hindi overwhelm lahat. And all of this, it's not just in Ormoc City. This is happening all over the country. Hindi lahat ng LGUs kaya ang pinapadala nila," Gomez said.

"Kaya kailangan may timing. 'Yung medical facilities in Ormoc City, it's not that much. We have three hospitals that can only handle 300 patients at a time," he added.

As they were already at full capacity, Gomez requested the Department of the Interior and the Local Government to temporarily stop returnees from July 1 to 15.

Gomez a few weeks back lamented the lack of coordination in the return of stranded OFWs or LSIs to the provinces.

Ormoc City announced its first COVID-19 case on June 5, an individual who tested negative in Manila but tested positive in the city. The cases increased as more returned. -Joahna Lei Casilao/NB, GMA News