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Stricter quarantine rules up in South Cotabato

/ 09:03 AM September 19, 2020

KORONADAL CITY—Alarmed by the recent spike of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the province, Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. reverted South Cotabato to general community quarantine (GCQ) status.

Tamayo said the measure takes effect starting Wednesday, Sept. 16, up to Sept. 30.

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On Friday, new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the province totaled 336. This is an increase of over 200 percent from the count three weeks ago, at only 104 on Aug. 25.

South Cotabato’s total number accounts for a third of the 1,039 cases throughout Region 12 or Soccsksargen as of Sept. 18.

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Tamayo said the surge in infections was driven by local virus transmission due to the easing of restrictions on the movement of people within the province and the region.

“The worsening COVID-19 local community transmission has started wrecking havoc to our health systems and to our medical health workers and frontliners,” he said in the order placing the province under GCQ.

The infections have spread in all of the province’s 10 towns and the capital Koronadal City. The cases are concentrated in Koronadal City (119), followed by Polomolok (59), and Tupi (28).

Dr. Rachelle Suarez-Uy, president of the South Cotabato Medical Society (SCMS), earlier urged Tamayo to place the province under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

“We believe that we need to do drastic measures to slow down the transmission of the virus to prevent our hospital system from unwanted collapse. (We are) asking for an ECQ to halt the movement of people and slow down, if not prevent, the further spread of the virus in our locality,” she said in September 9 letter to Tamayo.

Tamayo said he backed the doctors’ call but clarified that the power to declare a local government unit under ECQ lies with the mayor, based on the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease.

At least 200 healthcare workers have been quarantined after exposure to colleagues and others infected with the virus, SCMS data showed.

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Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, Jr., South Cotabato health chief, said that at least 25 healthcare workers in the province have tested positive for COVID-19.

Through the GCQ period, Tamayo said delivery of essential goods will be allowed, with the truck driver and one helper only, while inter-provincial public transport services is suspended.

He said medical personnel and other front-liners working outside South Cotabato will be required to undergo 14-day quarantine upon their return to the province.

Tamayo advised residents who are working outside the province to seek temporary shelters in their places of assignment until the order is lifted, while those from other areas who are working in South Cotabato are encouraged to rent boarding houses within the province.

JPV

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