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Brig. Gen. Bagnus Gaerlan
Pandemic

Army general succumbs to COVID-19, hospital chief warns impending healthcare crisis

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Dr. Anatalio Cagampang, Jr., hospital chief of Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center, said the military general succumbed to acute respiratory failure due to COVID pneumonia. Gaerlan had his COVID-19 vaccine last April. (Army 1ID photo)

IPIL, ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY

A military general has succumbed to COVID-19, three days after he was tested positive of coronavirus, in a hospital that saw its COVID wards already full where some of the patients take shelter in emergency tents outside the hospital.

Brig. Gen. Bagnus Gaerlan, assistant division commander of the Army’s First Infantry Division, expired at 5:19 a.m. on Monday, September 6.

Dr. Anatalio Cagampang, Jr., hospital chief of Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center, said the military general succumbed to acute respiratory failure due to COVID pneumonia. Gaerlan had his COVID-19 vaccine last April.

Three days earlier, 55-year-old La Union native was brought to the hospital on September 2 when he tested positive for the disease through a rapid antigen test. The confirmatory test a day after yielded the same result.

Gaerlan, a member of 1989  Makatao Class of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), was the commander of the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade based in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay before he was appointed as assistant division commander on August 19, 2019.

Zamboanga del Sur has experienced an uptick of COVID-19 cases in the recent weeks. It has a total of 8,168 cases as of September 4, and 1,806 of these cases are active.

In a media interview, Cagampang said the provincial hospital is already full and “we are facing a problem of oxygen supply.”

Each patient with severe symptoms needs 15 tanks of oxygen a day, he said. The hospital has 162 COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday, September 7.

The hospital has already increased its bed capacity from 50 beds to 100. But the number of COVID-19 patients keeps increasing, forcing the hospital to run beyond its capacity, Cagampang explained.

The healthcare system of the province has reached its critical stage, he warned.

“We are running out of oxygen supply and our health care workers are nearly exhausted,” Cagampang said, adding that 63 of the HCWs have tested positive.   

As COVID-19 patients are increasing, the hospital has already utilized its parking lot. Some 20 emergency tents were constructed outside the hospital.

The national pandemic task force placed the province under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions effective September 8 until September 30, a classification Cagampang considered not enough to contain the spread of the virus. Under GCQ, many people still go out risking more infections, he said.

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