2 Sarangani coastal villages placed under ECQ with first COVID-19 case

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 1 July) – Portions of two coastal villages in Maasim town, Sarangani province were placed under heightened community quarantine following the exposure of some residents to a confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient.

Maasim, Sarangani. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

Maasim Mayor Zyrex Pacquiao said Wednesday the move was aimed to expand the ongoing contract-tracing activities for the town’s first-ever COVID-19 case and contain the possible spread of the disease to other adjacent communities.

He was referring to the 52-year-old female Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) from Bo. Site in Barangay Colon who was confirmed positive of the disease by the Department of Health-Region 12 on Monday night.

Through Executive Order No. 01-2019-55, the mayor placed Sitio Bo. Site of Barangay Colon effective Wednesday under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) after being identified as a critical zone for COVID-19.

“All movements of residents regardless of age and health status are prohibited until the situation in the area will be considered cleared,” he said.

Purok 4B in Barangay Colon and Sitio San Roque in Barangay Malbang were declared as containment zones and placed under modified ECQ.

Sitios Colon Proper in Colon and Chapter Malipayon of Malbang were identified as buffer zones and placed under general community quarantine.

Pacquiao said they have placed control checkpoints in the affected areas to prevent unauthorized movements and ensure that all quarantine protocols are properly complied with.

The patient, who had worked in Kuwait, arrived in Manila last June 4 and was quarantined in Bulacan for 14 days after coming out positive for COVID-19 in the Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test.

She was allowed to travel home on June 21 and was initially brought to the town’s designated quarantine facility.

But while under isolation, Pacquiao said family members and other relatives of the OFW breached the protocols and visited her.

He said the overseas worker, who was already transferred to the provincial isolation center in Alabel town, eventually tested positive in two successive rapid diagnostic tests that was confirmed in another RT-PCR test.

“As of today, we already traced 26 persons who had close contact with the patient, and they are now isolated and under close monitoring,” he said in a radio interview.

On Tuesday, the municipal government placed the entire Maasim under total lockdown for 24 hours to facilitate the contact-tracing activities.

Pacquiao said all direct contacts of the patient were recommended to also undergo RT-PCR tests by Gov. Steve Chiongbian-Solon, who personally visited the area on Tuesday, and the Sarangani Health Office. (MindaNews)