Rise in virus cases in offices alarms South Cotabato health officials

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 12 November) – Health authorities in South Cotabato raised alarm on Thursday over the increasing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) transmission in private and government offices in the area.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., chief of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), said in a press conference on Thursday they recorded a total of 213 confirmed infections that were traced to at least 10 offices, mostly government institutions.

The South Cotabato Provincial Hospital in Koronadal City. Photo courtesy of Google Street View

He said the office-based Covid-19 transmission has so far topped the recorded infections in the province based on the nature of contact.

“This only shows that there is laxity in terms of compliance to minimum health standards in most of our offices,” Aturdido said.

The official said they confirmed the lapses in surprise visits in some offices in Koronadal City on Wednesday along with personnel from the City Health Office.

Their findings include the lack of compliance to the safe physical distancing protocol, the use of face mask and face shield, and proper ventilation standard in airconditioned offices.

He said that based on recommendations from the Department of Health and the World Health Organization, enclosed airconditioned offices should have steady air exchange system and the room temperature should not exceed 23.8 degrees Celsius.

The use of electric fans is not recommended and if unavoidable, they should not point directly towards an individual, he said.

“Although it’s not yet conclusive, there’s a possibility that these lapses are common in both private and government offices,” Aturdido said.

As of Wednesday night, the confirmed Covid-19 cases in the province since March already reached a total of 840 cases, with 16 related deaths, but a total of 652 patients or about 78 percent have fully recovered.

IPHO said the 118 or 69 percent of the 172 active cases only have mild symptoms, 36 or 21 percent are asymptomatic and 18 or 10 percent are considered severe.

Aside from office-related transmission, Aturdido said they recorded 196 infections in 125 households in the province.

He said 159 infections were traced to crowded public places and 57 within health facilities.

“We also have a number of disease transmission from events like birthday parties and wakes so were urging our residents to avoid these kind of activities,” he added. (MindaNews)