Lockdown in South Cotabato ‘sitio’ extended to July 24

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 20 July) – The lockdown in one of the “sitios” (hamlets) of Banga town in South Cotabato has been extended until Friday, July 24, in the wake of the continuing monitoring on residents who have had contact with a confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient, the municipal government confirmed on Monday.

Banga Mayor Albert Palencia issued a new executive order over the weekend, sustaining the lockdown in Sitio Awal, Barangay Lamba to complete the 14-day quarantine of the affected residents.

He said the move was based on a recommendation issued by the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO).

In a radio interview, Palencia said they were able to trace a total of 26 contacts of a returning female Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), who tested positive for COVID-19 last July 11.

The patient’s husband turned out negative in the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test while the identified contacts also tested negative in rapid anti-body testing, he said.

“They remain under isolation and closely monitored by our health workers,” the mayor said.

The municipal government restricted the movement of residents of Sitio Awal and temporarily barred the entry of visitors for five days starting July 14, three days after the OFW’s positive test result for COVID-19.

IPHO chief Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr. sought for the extension of the lock down to 14 days, starting from the release of the patient’s test result and the launching of contact-tracing last July 11.

The 31-year-old patient, who had worked in Kuwait, was advised to undergo home quarantine upon arrival from Manila last July 6 but was found to have breached the protocols and made “untraceable/uncontrolled” movements.

Palencia earlier said most of the traced contacts were relatives and friends who attended the patient’s wedding, which was done in Islamic rites, last July 10.

He said they were all following the quarantine protocols and regularly monitored by local health workers.

Those who would manifest possible symptoms of COVID-19 will be subjected to swab collection for confirmatory RT-PCR testing, he said.

The mayor said that at least 126 households in Sitio Awal were affected by the continuing lockdown.

He said the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office already distributed food packs to all households in coordination with the barangay council.

Meantime, the management of Dole Philippines, Inc. clarified in a statement on Monday that the COVID-19 patient had not visited its canning plant in Surallah town while under quarantine, contrary to Palencia’s statements in media interviews last week.

It said the mayor has apologized for the confusion and confirmed that the COVID-19 patient did not visit its canning plant. It was also affirmed by Dr. Ellen Quidilla, Banga health officer.

Nicholaos Yiannakis, Dole vice president and managing director, said the company values the health and wellness of its people and is compliant with the government’s precautionary measures and guidelines to curtail and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The company is strictly imposing health protocols to all its employees, guests, suppliers, service providers and contractors before entrance to any company facility,” he said.

Yiannakis said they have adopted safety guidelines to assure the health of its people, community and stakeholders “as well respond to our customers’ needs in these challenging times.” (MindaNews)