South Cotabato braces for virus surge
GENERAL SANTOS CITY–Health authorities in South Cotabato province are bracing for another possible spike of new COVID-19 cases by next month amid the resurgence of new infections in Metro Manila and other areas in the country.
Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., South Cotabato health officer, said they are closely monitoring the situation in the province’s 10 towns and the lone city due to the threats posed by the spread of the disease variants, especially the Omicron strain.
Based on previous trends, he said the local health sector is on alert for a potential surge by the second or third week of February.
“If we’re seeing a spike in areas where the vaccination (rate) is high, how much more here in our area since our coverage is still low and the activities are just the same?” Aturdido said in a radio interview.
He cited the rise in public gatherings and related activities in the past several weeks, especially during the Christmas holidays, with many people not observing the minimum health standards.
Movement and community quarantine restrictions in South Cotabato and other parts of the Soccsksargen region have eased since October last year due to the significant decrease in new COVID-19 cases.
The active COVID-19 cases in the province further dropped to only 44 as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, with only one new reported infection. The area posted over 2,500 active cases during a surge in September last year.
Aturdido said they are concerned with the possible spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant despite its milder symptoms when compared to the Delta strain.
“Everyone should remain vigilant and practice proper self-protection, and consider that the Omicron and Delta variants are possibly just around,” he said.
In case of a surge, the official said the province is facing problems in terms of conducting faster reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR testing due to the limited supply of cartridges for its GeneXpert machines.
The provincial government operates a COVID-19 testing laboratory in partnership with privately-run Dr. Arturo P. Pingoy Medical Center in Koronadal City.
The province previously sent swab samples from the area to the Cotabato Regional Medical Center in Cotabato City due to the lack of test cartridges.
Aturdido said the province needs to catch up with the vaccination coverage to protect more people from possible severe virus infections.
As of Monday, Aturdido said only around 300,000 individuals in the province are fully vaccinated while over 150,000 are partially vaccinated or already received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
He said such coverage is still way below the 707,800 targets for the area to achieve herd immunity from the virus.
COVID-19 active cases in PH leap to 39,974 as 10,775 more contract virus
For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.