Task force on coronavirus created in Cotabato province

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 4 Feb) – Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco has created an inter-agency group tasked to prevent the entry of 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the province.

Gov. Nancy A. Catamco visiting patients at the Cotabato Provincial Hospital. File photo courtesy of Nancy Catamco Supporters Facebook page

The group, the Inter-Agency Task Force on 2019-nCoV, was created by virtue of an executive order the governor issued on Monday.

Catamco has tasked the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) to lead the group whose functions include the assessment of threats of possible entry of virus in the province; establish necessary precautionary measures; and outline specific courses of actions to contain and handle the 2019-nCoV cases.

The governor has also ordered those in charge of the eight public hospitals in North Cotabato to prepare their facilities and staff in case persons with travel history from China and its administrative regions would enter or are already in the province.

She also urged health care professionals to help them identify and monitor at-risk individuals, which include pregnant women, older adults, children, and people with pre-existing medical conditions like human immunodeficiency virus, diabetes, or heart disease.

The task force, she added, will conduct information-education campaign (IEC) to raise awareness on nCoV and to dispel panic because of unverified reports in social media.

“I urge the people to be extra cautious and must change their lifestyle and eating habits… that instead of eating meat and other foods high in cholesterol, they should eat vegetables like malunggay, and drink calamansi instead of soda drinks,” said the governor.

In Kidapawan City, the mayor is set to sign the executive order which would be the basis in organizing a city-wide task force on nCoV.

Lawyer Jose Paolo Evangelista, head of the City Information Office, said they will take precautions to prevent the entry of the virus.

He said the hospitals in the city are coordinating with regional hospitals—the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City and Cotabato Regional Medical Center in Cotabato City.

“Our first job would focus on monitoring and reporting any case to the regional office of the Department of Health for proper intervention,” Evangelista stressed.

He said most of the hospitals in the city had been affected by recent earthquakes, thus, the medical facilities need the help of bigger hospitals in case an nCoV case is detected here.

Meantime, Evangelista said the 22nd charter celebrations, which will start on February 8 until the 14th, will proceed despite the threats posed by nCoV. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)