Saturday, March 21, 2020

Westmincom, DOH build quarantine facility in Basilan Island

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 20, 2020): Westmincom, DOH build quarantine facility in Basilan Island (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)

QUARANTINE FACILITY. Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, and Dr. Emilia Monicimpo, Department of Health regional director, meet with representatives of other government line agencies on Thursday (March 19, 2020) to tackle the plight of some 149 returning Filipinos from Malaysia. During the meeting, it was decided that a quarantine facility will be built in Sibakel Island, Lantawan, Basilan province to house the passengers. (Photo courtesy of Westmincom Public Information Office)

The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) will build a quarantine facility in Sibakel Island to house the more than 100 Filipinos stuck on two vessels at sea near Basilan province.

Maj. Arvin John Encinas, Westmincom spokesperson, said Friday the passengers arrived from Malaysia aboard two wooden-hulled vessels but were refused entry brought about by the imposition of enhanced community quarantine amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) threat.

Encinas said that 133 of them are aboard M/L Rosmina and 16 aboard M/L Ziara. The passengers, 10 of whom are children, remain at the two vessels at sea since they arrived four days ago.

Col. Leonardo Peña, chief of Westmincom’s unified command staff, led a team from other government agencies and inspected Sibakel Island in preparation for the construction of the quarantine facility.

Sibakel Island is under the political jurisdiction of the municipality of Lantawan in Basilan province. It is an isolated area with no existing infrastructure nor water source but can accommodate 200 people.

“Early this morning, the troops have brought construction materials to Sibakel Island with the assistance of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao,” Encinas said.

Encinas said the facility will be built in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH).

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Westmincom chief, chaired a meeting Thursday with representatives of line agencies including DOH Regional Director Emilia Monicimpo, Department of Public Works and Highways Regional Director Cuyamombao Dia, and Office of Civil Defense Regional Director Manuel Luis Ochotorena.

“Coronavirus disease-19 is an ‘illness’ that starts with ‘I’. We have to change the ‘I’ to ‘We’ to make it ‘wellness’. Let us continue to work together towards wellness to defeat the illness and make things happen,” Sobejana said.

Meanwhile, Encinas assured that no one among the passengers was classified as patients under investigation (PUI) but were listed as persons under monitoring (PUM) following a checkup by health personnel.

Encinas said that the provincial government of Basilan has provided them food and other needs since they arrived from Malaysia.

He said the stranded returning Filipinos are from this city, Zamboanga del Sur, and Central Mindanao area.

The Basilan Provincial Task Force Covid-19 said that there are 19 PUIs and 1,050 PUMs in the province as of 4 p.m. of March 19.

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