South Cotabato returns to MGCQ status despite COVID-19 spike

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 10 May) – South Cotabato province is going back to the less restrictive modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status despite the growing cases of coronavirus infections in the area.

South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said Monday the national Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for Emerging Infectious Diseases has disapproved the local government’s earlier move to place the area under the stricter general community quarantine (GCQ).

The governor issued Executive Order No. 21 last April 30, reverting the entire province to GCQ and restricting movements in its borders from May 1 to 31 due to the rising coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

Tamayo said the IATF pushed instead for the implementation of stricter measures, including lockdowns, for the affected barangays and municipalities.

“That will only need approval from the regional IATF,” he said in his weekly radio program “Ang Gobernador Kag ang Katawhan.”

He assured that the local government, including the municipalities and cities, has “enough mechanisms to contain” the continuing spike of COVID-19 cases in the province.

The province recorded 37 additional cases on Sunday, bringing the active infections to 454, the highest in Region 12 (Soccsksargen).

The confirmed cases in the area since last year already reached a total of 2,558, mostly locally transmitted, with 62 related deaths and 2,042 recovered patients.

Tamayo said all localities in the province have recorded increasing cases of COVID-19 since last month.

“Based on our data, there are cases in our communities that we have not yet detected but we’re trying to catch up with that through expanded testing,” he said.

The governor said the expansion of the province’s isolation facilities is also ongoing and they have set up a holding area for patients at the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital (SCPH) in Koronadal City.

He said the newly designated isolation unit at the provincial hospital is now operational and accepted an initial 10 patients.

“We’re working on establishing more COVID-19 areas (at the SCPH),” he said.

Tamayo added that additional volunteer nurses from the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office were deployed at the Upper Valley Community Hospital, the province’s dedicated treatment facility, to augment its manpower. (MindaNews)