COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 06 May) – The Cotabato City Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 is set to re-implement the “No Movement Sunday” policy beginning May 9, due to a rise in infections in the city.
In March, the city recorded 63 COVID-19 cases and 115 in April.
Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, IATF chair, said the decision was reached during the task force meeting to reevaluate the city quarantine protocols.
Sayadi also noted that lately the city recorded almost every week a COVID-19 related death.
“There is a shortage of oxygen tanks all over the city hospitals as high demand came from the confined COVID-19 patients,” she said during a public address Wednesday.
The city had 354 cases in October 2020, the highest so far.
“We thought we were already doing fine, considering that we had days when the city recorded zero cases,” Sayadi said.
The mayor noted the rise in cases happened at a time that the vaccination has started and with stricter protocols in airports and other entry points.
“It really shows that the virus is just circulating within the city,” she said.
She blamed the increase in cases on the lax observance of COVID-19 protocols by people who love to attend birthdays, weddings or weekend getaways.
She cited that since the “No Movement Sunday” was lifted in April “more cases are being recorded every day.”
In re-imposing policy, Sayadi also directed all establishments, offices, churches, terminals, markets, and other places that are frequented by people on a daily basis, to scan the digital IDs in their entrance and exits.
The official lifted the policy on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday to allow Catholics to observe the Holy Week, and on April 18, 25 and May 2 to allow Muslims free movement during the fasting month of Ramadan.
She pointed out that since the “No Movement Sunday” policy, wearing of face masks and physical distancing are already a city ordinance, violators will be penalized.
The city will implement stricter border control points that will require even Authorized Persons Outside of Residence and VIPs and their escorts to undergo QR scanning.
She urged everybody’s cooperation and appealed to neighboring towns to sincerely impose COVID-19 prevention efforts.
The move to re-impose the “No Movement Sunday” came after the city allowed Rural Bus Transit to open direct trips from and to Cagayan de Oro City in Northern Mindanao via Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Bukidnon towns.
Previously, passengers from Cotabato City had to take another bus from Kabacan in North Cotabato in going to Cagayan de Oro or Bukidnon, and commuters from Northern Mindanao had to disembark in Kabacan for another bus to Cotabato City.
Sayadi led the ribbon-cutting during the launching Wednesday of the bus company’s inaugural trip at the People’s Palace.
The bus seating arrangement has been modified to meet physical distancing requirements, from four seats in a row to just three. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)