Covid-19 PUMs in North Cotabato up 34.4%

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 20 March)  – The number of persons under monitoring (PUMs) for possible coronavirus disease (Covid-19) infection in North Cotabato increased by 34.4 percent in one day, a local official said.

The PUMs recently traveled to Metro Manila and countries with Covid-19 cases.

Cotabato second district board member Dr. Philbert Malaluan, also manager of the Cotabato Emergency Operations Center on Covid-19, said that as of 12 noon of March 19, the number of PUMs rose to 1,103. On Wednesday, the number was 723.

Malaluan assured the increase should not be a cause for alarm.

“This only showed that the mechanism that we have set up for surveillance and monitoring of residents in the province who have travel history to Metro Manila and countries with Covid-19 cases has improved. So, this should cause no alarm or sent us to panic,” he stressed.

Of the 1,103 PUMs, 32 are considered patients under investigation (PUIs) after showing mild flu-like symptoms. Both the PUMs and the PUIs are undergoing home quarantine, data showed.

But as of March 20, Malaluan said the province was still free from Covid-19.

Executive Order Number 22 issued by Governor Nancy Catamco on March 19 included the selective closure of establishments while the province is still under a “pre-emptive lockdown”.

Malaluan said the provincial government will allow establishments like hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, those selling agricultural supplies, veterinary clinics, slaughter houses and funeral homes with chapel services to remain open.

The EO, however, prohibited local and foreign tourists to visit and stay in resorts, lodging houses, inns and hotels to prevent the transmission of Covid-19.

Malaluan noted that the EOs issued by at least nine mayors in the province providing for anti-Covid-19 measures differed with the governor’s on some points.

For example, he said, the EO issued on March 18 by Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista did not mention the closure of business establishments.

Evangelista also has not placed the city under a “preemptive lockdown,” which was the main content of Catamco’s EO.

“With that, citing basis from a provision of the Local Government Code of 1991 or RA 7160, the EO of the provincial government shall supersede the EO issued by the mayor in town or in the city,” he explained.

Evangelista, in his video message on March 18, said he would only order a lockdown if the city registered two Covid-19 positive cases.

Catamco, in her radio and TV programs, said she will meet with the mayors so they could harmonize their EOs to prevent confusion and misunderstanding.

“I would like to commend the mayors for doing measures to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 in their areas of responsibilities, but we have to harmonize these EOs for our constituents’ sake,” she said. (Malu Cadeliña-Manar/MindaNews)