South Cotabato gets high-risk tag for COVID-19

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 4 September)— South Cotabato province is now considered as a “high-risk” area for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Soccsksargen or Region 12, but officials assured the public that the “situation is still under control.”

In an emergency press conference on Friday, Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., South Cotabato health chief, stressed the province has the most number of COVID-19 positives in Region 12.

“South Cotabato is now considered as a special concern or high-risk area in the region due to its rising confirmed COVID-19 cases. In some villages, we already have a clustering of cases,” he said.

In the past six days, Aturdido said that South Cotabato recorded 34 COVID-19 cases, 20 of whom don’t have a history of travel to other places with confirmed coronavirus disease.

South Cotabato. Map courtesy of Google

Aturdido said that some of the new COVID-19 positives in the province had traveled to the General Santos City Fish Port Complex, which was partially shut down from September 2 to 5 due to the number of persons tested for the disease who had exposure at the facility.

Despite the growing number of COVID-19 cases in South Cotabato, Governor Reynaldo Tamayo, Jr. claimed the situation “is still under control.”

“We are doing our best to contain the spread of COVID-19,” he said, noting the province is armed with an online system that can trace the contacts of persons tested positive of the virus.

He was referring to the South Cotabato COVID-19 Contract Tracing System, which utilizes the scanning of QR codes to log online the movement of registered individuals, who will receive text messages if they have been in close contact with a person tested positive for the virus.

Tamayo said the COVID-19 situation in the province now warrants a total lockdown, but he noted he will not impose such to avoid paralyzing again the recovering economic activities.

From September 1 to 15, Tamayo ordered a border lockdown, meaning non-residents are not allowed to enter the province, which is under a modified general community quarantine, unless they are considered “authorized persons outside of residence” or those seeking medical services.

As of 6 p.m. September 3, South Cotabato has 137 confirmed COVID-19 cases, followed by General Santos City with 86, Sarangani with 83, Sultan Kudarat with 82, North Cotabato with 65, and Cotabato City with 60.

In total, Region 12 has 513 COVID-19 cases with 349 recoveries, 157 active cases and seven deaths, according to the Department of Health-12 Center for Health Development.

The region recorded 28 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, it said. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)