Cotabato City records 7th COVID-19 case after six weeks reporting ‘zero’

COTABATO CITY  (MindaNews / 16 May) — A 26-year-old male government employee from Cotabato City is the 7th confirmed case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in this city and the 17th in Region 12 (Soccsksargen).

The city’s 6th case tested positive six weeks ago, on April 1. At the regional level, the last COVID-19 case reported was on April 9.

Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi announced through her Facebook page on Friday afternoon that contact tracing is being conducted now to determine who came in close contact with the patient.

Where are the people?
It’s a No Movement Sunday Cotabato City on 10 May 2020, as mandated by Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi’s Executive Order No. 343 to give business establishments time to thoroughly disinfect their areas. MindaNews photos by FERDINANDH B. CABRERA \

The Department of Health’s Center for Health Development regional office said the patient is in stable condition. It said the history of travel or exposure of the patient is still under investigation.

“We are worried with this development after long weeks working to contain the spread of COVID-19 and now we have one positive case,” the mayor said.

“That is why I don’t believe we have to lower our guards as early this time before COVID-19 is totally flattened, we have an open city where people come and go”, she added.

Before this latest case, the city had six, five of whom tested positive in March while the sixth tested positive on April 1. Since then, no other case has been reported until Friday.

Of the six, two went to the New Davao Matina Gallera derby in March while one is a wife whose husband also went to the derby. All six previous cases have recovered.

Sayadi is urging a rapid mass testing of people in close contact with the patient  and has readied an isolation facility for the suspected and probable persons infected with COVID-19.

The city government will maintain the imposition of General Community Quarantine where number coding will continue to be implemented, along with a  No Movement Sunday and window hours for those who are holding quarantine passes.

Cotabato City voted yes to inclusion in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) but the city appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte in February to “hold in abeyance the transfer of Cotabato City to BARMM.

At the end of her eight-page position paper, Sayadi, who campaigned for a ‘No’ vote in the January 21, 2019 plebiscite to ratify the Bangsamoro law, said they are “ardently appealing for a Status Quo until such time that the three-year transition period has been completed and the BARMM bureaucracy would have been fully operational.”  The transition period is until June 30, 2022.

BARMM Local Governments Minister and spokesperson Naguib Sinarimbo said that since the ratification of the plebiscite on the Organic Law for the BARMM in January 2019, Cotabato City has been part of the BARMM but “we could not supervise and regulate because the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) field office in Cotabato City has not been transferred to the BARMM, contrary to the mandate of the Bangsamoro Organic Law which is within three months” form the organization of the BTA.”

Duterte in February met with the Cotabato City mayor and BARMM officials and asked them to submit position papers. The President has yet to decide on the issue.

Cotabato City is the seat of the BARMM, the autonomous region comprising Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.

In Region 12, the last COVID-19 case reported before Friday wasPH 3989 on April 9, a 48-year-old male from North Cotabato with travel history in Davao City, the epicenter of the coronavirus disease in Mindanao.

Of the total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Soccsksargen, 14 have recovered while one died.

As of 5 p.m. Friday, May 15,  Soccsksargen recorded  a total of 445 suspect COVID-19 cases (48 admitted, 119 discharged, 247 outpatients and 31 deaths).

Of the 35 reported total deaths in the region, including the three probable COVID-19 cases, only one tested positive for COVID-19 (PH600, the dead patient from Sultan Kudarat), 29 tested negative, two were still pending and three have no specimens collected, DOH-12 data showed.

The region was placed under a modified general community quarantine from today until May 3. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera with a report from Bong Sarmiento  / MindaNews)