Cotabato City will be placed on quarantine starting on March 16, 2020 to prevent possible carriers of the COVID-19 from entering southwestern Mindanao's economic center, its mayor said.
The city government has yet to issue guidelines on its planned community quarantine, but the announcement was made to provide "advance information" for those who have transactions in Cotabato City, Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi said in a statement on Saturday.
"Ang Cotabato City ay isang open city. Ibig sabihin, maraming pumapasok dito na galing sa ibang lugar... Ang public health ay isang bagay na hindi natin pwedeng isakripisyo," the mayor said.
"COVID-19 free pa din ang Cotabato City at ginagawa natin ito upang manatili tayong ligtas mula sa sakit," she said.
Community quarantine guidelines will be released on Sunday, a day before the city implement's its lockdown, she said.
Guiani-Sayadi made the announcement hours after a COVID-19 patient from Lanao del Sur died at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center in Cagayan de Oro.
The 54-year-old Filipino male was the first coronavirus fatality recorded outside Metro Manila.
Cotabato City is the first Mindanao province set to implement a lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier placed Metro Manila under a month-long community quarantine as COVID-19 cases in the capital region continue to rise.
Under the executive order, areas with at least 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in different localities must be placed on quarantine to avoid spreading the disease to other parts of the country.
The Philippines is currently under a state of public health emergency as government agencies enforce stricter measures to contain the disease that has killed 8 people and infected 103 others in the country.
Globally, nearly 6,000 COVID-19 patients have died, while almost 150,000 others tested positive for the coronavirus pandemic.