South Cotabato shuts down borders anew

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 2 Sep) – South Cotabato province has shut down its borders anew effective Tuesday to non-essential travels to prevent the further spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from areas with recorded local transmission.

South Cotabato. Map courtesy of Google

South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said in a press conference on Wednesday the move was aimed to limit the movement of residents as well as the entry of people from other areas in the wake of the surge of COVID-19 cases in the neighboring provinces and cities.

He said it will enable the province to properly contain the further spread of COVID-19 cases that emerged in two of its municipalities in the last two weeks.

“We will not allow non-residents to enter the province. Only essential travels will be permitted but subject to some restrictions,” Tamayo said.

The border lockdown was set in Executive Order (EO) No. 52 issued by the governor on Tuesday afternoon that extended the implementation of the modified general community quarantine in the area until Sept. 15.

It covers the province’s boundaries with this city and Sultan Kudarat, which already declared local transmission of the disease.

The local government implemented the same restriction when the province was placed under enhanced and general community quarantine from mid-March to May.

Under EO 52, Tamayo said border entries are not allowed for non-essential workers and travelers from other areas.

Public transportation will be limited to routes within the province’s 10 towns and lone city until the lockdown is lifted, he said.

Exempted from the prohibition are food and essential deliveries; government employees; personnel involved in peace and order, rescue and COVID-19 prevention efforts; media; workers of public utilities; and those seeking immediate medical attention.

All those allowed to pass the borders should have registered with the province’s application-based COVID-19 Contract-Tracing System and with the appropriate quick response or QR-coded cards.

Tamayo said they will implement anew the “one driver, one helper” policy for vehicles delivering food and other essential supplies.

He said medical personnel working outside the province will be subjected to 14-day mandatory quarantine upon their return.

“This is a precautionary measure since there are already confirmed COVID-19 cases that were traced to hospitals,” he said.

During the lockdown period, the governor said they will continue with the containment measures for the recorded cases in the municipalities of Surallah and Polomolok to prevent further local transmission.

He said the local government will also re-evaluate its strategies and conduct an inventory of the available resource, especially in terms of COVID-19 patient care facilities.

“We will make sure that all these are in order by the end of the lockdown period,” Tamayo said.

As of Wednesday morning, South Cotabato already recorded a total of 112 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the highest in Region 12 (Soccsksargen), with 80 recoveries. (MindaNews)