South Cotabato back to GCQ status as COVID-19 cases soar

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 16 Sep) – South Cotabato was reverted Wednesday to the more restrictive general community quarantine (GCQ) with the rising cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) due to the local transmission of the virus, Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said.

South Cotabato. Map courtesy of Google

The GCQ in the province, which has been under the Modified GCQ for months, will last until September 30.

Tamayo said the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the province has reached an alarming stage in the last few weeks due to the easing of restrictions on the movement of people within the province and the region.

“The worsening COVID-19 local community transmission has started wreaking havoc to our health systems and to our medical health workers and frontliners,” he said in the order placing the province under GCQ.

As of 6 p.m. Thursday, September 15, South Cotabato recorded 309 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the highest in Region 12, the regional Department of Health office reported.

It was followed by General Santos City with 189, Cotabato City with 143, Sarangani with 118, Sultan Kudarat with 96 and North Cotabato with 89.

The total COVID-19 cases in Region 12, also known as Soccsksargen, stood at 944 with 500 active cases, 426 recoveries and 17 deaths.

Dr. Rachelle Suarez-Uy, president of the South Cotabato Medical Society (SCMS), earlier urged Tamayo to place the province under an enhanced community quarantine or total lockdown due to the rapid surge of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province.

“We believe that we need to do drastic measures to slow down the transmission of the virus to prevent our hospital system from unwanted collapse. [We are] asking for an ECQ to halt the movement of people and slow down, if not prevent, the further spread of the virus in our locality,” she said in letter to Tamayo dated September 9.

At least 200 healthcare workers have been quarantined after exposure to colleagues and others infected with the virus, SCMS data showed.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., South Cotabato health chief, said that at least 25 healthcare workers in the province have tested positive for COVID-19.

Tamayo said that delivery of essential goods will be allowed (one driver, one helper only) while inter-provincial public transport services will be suspended in the duration of the GCQ or until lifted.

Medical personnel and other frontliners working outside South Cotabato will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon their return to the province, he said.

Tamayo advised residents who are working outside the province to seek temporary shelters in their places of assignment until the order is lifted, while those from other areas who are working in South Cotabato are encouraged to rent boarding houses within the province. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)