SouthCot tightens borders vs new COVID-19 strain

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 5 Jan) – The provincial government of South Cotabato has implemented stricter border control measures for returning residents and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from countries with documented cases of the mutant coronavirus disease (COVID-19) strain from the United Kingdom (UK).

South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo, Jr. speaks to the media regarding the province’s measures against COVID-19. File photo courtesy of the Provincial Information Office

In an executive order (EO), South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. directed starting last weekend the tighter monitoring and screening of inbound passengers and travelers coming from 20 countries where the disease has so far emerged.

These are the UK, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada and Spain.

The national government implemented starting Dec. 24 a temporary travel ban for people from these countries due to concerns over the possible spread of the new COVID-19 strain.

The ban does not cover returning OFWs and visiting Filipinos but they should undergo mandatory testing and quarantine.

Upon arrival, Tamayo said they will be strictly screened at the port of entry, especially at the airports, seaports and bus terminals.

He said they will then be subjected to a 14-day quarantine at designated government facilities within the province.

“Home quarantine is strictly prohibited,” he cited in EO No, 66.

In line with this, the governor said he ordered the sustained implementation of the minimum health standards and protocols in the barangays as well as the continuous monitoring of people arriving from abroad.

He tasked the barangay health emergency response teams to ensure their compliance to quarantine protocols and testing.

“We have tapped police units to assist our local government units in enforcing these measures,” he said.

Tamayo extended effective last Jan. 1 and until the end of the month the observance of modified general community quarantine in the entire province due to the continuing threats posed by the spread of COVID-19.

As of Monday night, the confirmed infections in the province already reached a total of 1,158, with 27 related deaths, but 1,083 of the patients have recovered.

The province’s active cases is currently at 48. (MindaNews)