Some 27 more fish vendors from South Cotabato province who had travel history to the fishport complex here tested positive on Tuesday for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The additional infections linked to the fishport, which is considered a Covid-19 “hot spot,” were among the 43 cases confirmed in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) on Tuesday night by the Department of Health (DOH) and rural health units.
South Cotabato province recorded 37 new cases, Cotabato City has four while this city and Kidapawan City added one each.
Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., head of the South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), said Wednesday the 27 fish vendors were all traced to have had exposure at the fishport complex in the last two weeks.
He said 21 of them were from Koronadal City and among those who earlier tested reactive in rapid antibody testing while the five others were from the municipalities of Polomolok and Tupi.
Aturdido said a total of 40 fish vendors from parts of the province with reported exposure to the fishport have already turned out positive for the disease since Aug. 24.
He said eight of their identified close contacts, mostly family members and relatives, have also been infected.
“That’s a huge group that can potentially spread the disease, especially through the close contacts who were not properly traced and identified,” Aturdido said in a press conference.
He said the massive contact-tracing and containment activities are ongoing to prevent further cases of Covid-19 local transmission in the province.
Concerned local government units have implemented granular and localized lockdowns in areas with confirmed cases of the disease, he said.
As of Wednesday morning, the confirmed Covid-19 cases in the province already reached a total of 209, with two deaths and 85 recoveries.
About 57 percent or 119 of the cases contracted the disease from local communities and the fishport complex while the rest were returning locally-stranded individuals and overseas Filipino workers.
The recorded infections nearly doubled from 108 last Aug. 24, mainly due to the clustering of cases in Polomolok and Surallah tows and in Koronadal City.
Aturdido said the rate of Covid-19 infection in the province is already alarming as shown by the 37 confirmed cases or positivity rate of 38 percent out of the 98 swab samples processed by the Dr. Arturo P. Pingoy Medical Center in Koronadal City on Tuesday.
He expressed concern with the test results from Koronadal City, which logged a positivity rate of 88 percent or 27 positive cases out of 31 samples.
Aturdido urged residents to remain vigilant and strictly follow the health protocols due to the increasing cases of Covid-19.
“Let’s protect ourselves at all times and just stay home if possible,” he said.
Source: Philippines News Agency