2 returning South Cotabato residents tested positive of COVID-19

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 3 June) – Two returning residents of South Cotabato province who were previously stranded in Metro Manila and Cebu due to the heightened community quarantine have tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), officials confirmed on Wednesday.

South Cotabato. Map courtesy of Google

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., chief of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), said the patients were among the stranded residents who were flown home through “sweeper” flights via the city international airport since last week.

He said one of them is a 24-year-old pregnant locally stranded individual (LSI) from Tampakan town who arrived from Cebu along with her family last Sunday.

The official said the patient, who was nearing full-term with her pregnancy, initially tested positive for COVID-19 in rapid diagnostic test upon arrival. Her husband and child both tested negative.

Aturdido said swab samples were immediately collected from her and submitted to the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in Cotabato City for confirmatory testing and it turned out positive based on the results released on Wednesday.

He said the second new confirmed case is a 34-year-old Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) from Koronadal City who was supposed to return abroad but was stranded in Metro Manila due to the cancellation of international flights amid the pandemic.

The OFW instead opted to return home through one of the special flights several days ago and was recommended for PCR testing after showing suspected symptoms. The result also came out positive for COVID-19.

“We have two new cases but there’s no need for the public to panic because these patients were properly monitored, isolated and treated,” Aturdido said in a press conference.

He said the pregnant patient was confined at the province’s COVID-19 patient care center at the Soccsksargen General Hospital in Surallah town.

The OFW remained in the designated community isolation facility as she was only showing mild symptoms and undergoing strict quarantine, he said.

Cecille Lorenzo, head of the IPHO’s epidemiology and surveillance unit, said they were already tracing the possible close contacts of the two patients in coordination with the rural health units.

She said they were specifically tracking down their co-passengers in the special flights and bus trips from the city airport to Koronadal City.

Since last week, over 600 returning OFWS and LSIs have already returned to the province through “sweeper” flights, passenger vessel and buses commissioned by the national and local governments.

Lorenzo said South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. has ordered all returning OFWs and LSIs to undergo mandatory rapid testing for COVID-19 upon arrival.

As of Wednesday, the province’s confirmed COVID-19 cases already increased to six, with the first four listed as fully recovered. (MindaNews)