100 percent increase in COVID-19 cases in Mindanao region attributed to returnees
KORONADAL CITY—The number of COVID-19 cases in two Mindanao regions—Soccsksargen and Caraga—doubled as more overseas Filipino workers and stranded individuals started returning to their hometowns.
The number of cases in Soccsksargen, the region composed of South Cotabato, Cotabato City, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos, has doubled to 48 since June 1.
In the region, South Cotabato province had the most cases at 16, according to the regional Department of Health (DOH) office.
Trailing behind South Cotabato, Cotabato City posted 15 COVID-19 cases; Sultan Kudarat, six; Cotabato province, five; and General Santos and Sarangani, three each, according to the DOH report as of 6 pm on Saturday (June 20).
The number doubled after local government units in the region allowed individuals stranded elsewhere and OFWs to come home subject to quarantine protocol.
On June 1, the DOH in Soccksargen reported only 24 cases with Cotabato City having the most at 10. At that time Cotabato province had five cases.
South Cotabato had four. Sultan Kudarat had three and General Santos City and Sarangani, one each.
So far, 24 COVID-19 patients in the region had recovered.
Cotabato City voted inclusion in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in 2019 but it has yet to officially join the region due to pending cases at the Supreme Court and a request in the Office of the President for the city to stay where it currently is.
But the regional DOH has been monitoring COVID-19 cases in the city since the pandemic struck.
South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said the local government was expecting the number of COVID-19 cases to increase with the return of stranded individuals and OFWs.
He said the returning residents had been put on quarantine and no local transmission of coronavirus has been reported yet.
“We should not let our guards down as there is still no vaccine or medicine for COVID-19,” he said at a press briefing.
Data from the South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) showed that at least 177 OFWs and 1,455 stranded individuals had already returned to the province since June 13.
Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., IPHO chief, said the results of coronavirus tests now come faster after the DOH allowed the Dr. Arturo P. Pingoy Medical Center, a private hospital in Koronadal City, to operate as a coronavirus testing lab.
Prior to that, tests had to be done at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.
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