The Caraga Regional Task Force for COVID-19 One Caraga Shield (RTF-COCS) convened for its 18th Meeting on 21 July 2021 through teleconference to discuss interventions to address the threat of COVID-19 Delta variant to have been found in the proximate cities of Cagayan de Oro and Gingoog, Misamis Oriental. Caraga Regional Development Council (RDC) and RTF-COCS Chairperson Gov. Dale B. Corvera of Agusan del Norte presided the said meeting attended by the local chief executives (LCEs) and heads of key national government agencies (NGAs).

The Task Force passed RTF-COCS Resolution No. 37, S. 2021, “A Resolution Restricting Travel Movement Between Regions X and Caraga to Contain the Spread of COVID-19 Delta Variant Through the Establishment of Regional Border Checkpoints.” The Task Force requires any of the following documents for entrants from Region X, viz: Negative RT-PCR result; Vaccination card (indicating completion of either first or second doses provided that the required 14-day post-vaccination period has elapsed); Safe, Swift and Smart Passage (S-PaSS); Stay Safe Pass; Company Identification Card (ID) and Travel Authority for authorized persons outside residence (APOR) and frontline medical personnel; Mayor’s permit or delivery documents for goods delivery; and ID with address information for residents from Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental. To facilitate the border control activities, the provincial local government units (PLGUs) and City Government of Butuan also agreed to each contribute funds for the operation of said checkpoints.

As of 21 July 2021, the Region recorded a total of 24,053 COVID-19 cases in the Region of which 21,848 have already recovered, 1,466 are in isolation, and 739 have died. During the meeting, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that Caraga’s COVID-19 epidemic curve started to again exhibit a declining trend which implies that the Region is re-entering its gradual recovery phase. Among provinces in the Region, Agusan del Sur recorded the highest number of cases at 33 percent of those recorded. Among cities, Butuan City posted the highest number of cases at 58 percent of the total number recorded.

The Task Force also discussed complementary measures to prepare against the Delta variant including strengthened implementation of the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) strategy; implementing the accordion policy to prepare local hospitals for potential surges; increasing local intensive care unit (ICU) and temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMF) capacities; and stocking up on medicines and oxygen supplies, among others.

The regional border checkpoints shall be effective 22 July 2021 and shall be jointly operationalized by PNP Regional Office 13 (PRO13), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), DOH, Office of Civil Defense (OCD), and Agusan del Norte Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).

Article by: Mr. Gemeniano B. Crisante, NEDA XIII