South Cotabato confirms first COVID-19 case

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 31 March) – South Cotabato province now has a positive case for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a 53-year-old male with recent travel history to Manila, a health official confirmed Tuesday.

Police personnel man a checkpoint in Tupi, South Cotabato as Gov. Reynaldo S. Tamayo Jr. placed the province under enhanced community quarantine as part of the efforts to contain COVID-19. Photo courtesy of the FB page of PRO12 South Cotabato 1st Provincial Mobile Force Company

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office chief, told reporters the first confirmed COVID-19 patient is a resident of T’boli, a gold-rush town in the upper valley portion of the province.

“Please do not panic. We are doing our best to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease. You can help us by staying at your homes,” he appealed.

“With this confirmed coronavirus disease in the province, our residents should all the more practice social distancing and proper hygiene etiquettes,” he added.

Aturdido said the patient traveled to Metro Manila due to a lung problem and was overtaken by the enhanced community quarantine imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte in the entire Luzon.

Due to the suspended flights, he went back on a passenger ship that docked in Cagayan de Oro and then traveled on a bus to General Santos City and then to Koronadal and to his hometown in T’boli, according to Aturdido.

Contract tracing has been launched by health and local officials on the province’s first COVID-19 positive case whose laboratory test was conducted by the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.

Aturdido said the patient was confined at the South Cotabato provincial hospital for fever on March 18, two days after he arrived home.

He was discharged five days later and then placed on home quarantine until the results came out, the official said.

Citing initial investigation conducted by T’boli municipal officials, Aturdido said the patient “followed the home quarantine measures.”

He is in much better condition now than when he was confined at the hospital, Aturdido said.

As of Tuesday morning, Aturdido said that of the 39 persons under investigation (PUIs), 27 were tested negative for COVID-19 and seven are still admitted.

Three other PUIs have died, data showed.

Aturdido said the number of persons under monitoring (PUMs) was going down with only 115 individuals undergoing the 14-day home quarantine as of Tuesday, March 31.

Last Sunday, the province recorded a total of 2,521 PUMs. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)