PUMs in South Cotabato surge to over 1,200

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 18 Mar) – The number of persons under monitoring (PUMs) in South Cotabato has surged to 1,218 following the community quarantine in Metro Manila that President Rodrigo Duterte had extended to the entire Luzon island, provincial health officials said Wednesday.

South Cotabato. Map courtesy of Google

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, provincial health chief, said the sudden increase in the number of PUMs was due to the influx of residents who came home from the National Capital Region, where the country’s first local COVID-19 transmission was confirmed.

As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, South Cotabato remains free of COVID-19, he said.

“The best way to help the government fight COVID-19 is to stay at home even if we still don’t have a confirmed case of coronavirus disease in the province,” Aturdido appealed to residents.

A total of 1,413 PUMs were recorded as of March 17, but 195 have already completed their 14-day home quarantine, leaving 1,218 still under self-quarantine, data from the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (PESU) showed.

PUMs are those who travelled to areas with confirmed COVID-19 cases but don’t show signs and symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease.

All the 11 localities in South Cotabato have PUM cases, with the highest in the lone city of Koronadal, the provincial capital and seat of government of Region 12.

Koronadal has 246 PUMs still undergoing home quarantine, followed by Polomolok with 155, T’boli with 126, 109 in Tantangan, 105 in Surallah, 102 in Tampakan, 100 in Tupi, 95 in Sto. Nino, 68 in Lake Sebu, 58 in Norala and 54 in Banga.

At least 12 individuals have been classified as persons under investigation (PUIs) but four of them had been discharged after testing negative of COVID-19, the PESU said.

Aturdido said they are still awaiting the laboratory results of the eight other PUIs admitted at undisclosed hospitals across the province.

PUIs are those with travel history abroad and in the country with confirmed COVID-19 cases and show signs and symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease.

Aturdido appealed to those residents with travel history to areas with confirmed cases of COVID-19 to get in touch with their barangay or local government health workers.

“All information will be considered highly confidential,” he said.

Col. Jemuel Siason, South Cotabato police director, said four border checkpoints have been set up in the different entry points in the area to enforce the preemptive lockdown imposed by the provincial government to fight COVID-19.

He said those vehicles transporting consumer goods and other essential public services would be allowed access to the province. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)