Panic buying grips North Cotabato town over ECQ rumors

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 10 September) – Some residents of Midsayap, North Cotabato went into panic buying mode due to social media posts that the town would be placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) after local and health officials declared a case of local transmission of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), provincial board member Dr. Philbert Malaluan said.

But Malaluan denied the rumors saying what’s in place was only a localized lockdown.

The public market of Midsayap, North Cotabato. MindaNews file photo

“Ongoing pa ang contact-tracing, so, walang dahilan para mag (there’s no reason for) panic buying. Stay at home and follow minimum health standards or protocols para ligtas tayo sa (to stay safe from) Covid-19,” he said.

He clarified that a local government unit (LGU) or a rural health officer can only declare a local transmission after confirmation from the Cotabato Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and the Department of Health (DOH) Center for Health Development in Region 12.

He said such confirmation is based on a thorough evaluation by experts from DOH-12.

Dr. Amy Rayray, rural health officer of Midsayap traced the reported local transmission to a trader and his son who went to Davao City on Aug. 11.

They did not undergo quarantine because they were selling essential goods in the public market, Rayray said.

But she said that on Aug. 24, father and son manifested flu-like symptoms and were brought on Aug. 31 to the Cotabato Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in Cotabato City after experiencing difficulty in breathing.

Rayray said that a few days ago, the trader, four of his household members (including his mother) and two other persons who had close contact with him and his son underwent a Reverse Transcription – Polymerase Chain Reaction test.

Only the trader and his family members tested positive of the virus and were placed on isolation in a facility run by the Midsayap LGU, she said.

“Except [for] the 84-year old mother, the wife and her son are asymptomatic,” she added.

Malaluan said the additional five Covid-19 cases and possible local transmission were no cause for alarm.

Since Sept. 3, the Midsayap LGU has placed under “focus containment” Burgos Street in Poblacion Sais where the trader’s family lives, and the “bagsakan” (drop point) at the town’s public market in Poblacion Singko. (Malu Cadeliña Manar/MindaNews)