Surigao tourist island considered for isolation area for Ebola patients

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 Nov) – Officials here are considering to use a small island four kilometers away as isolation area in case Ebola cases reach this city.

Dr. Emmanuel Plandano, chief of the City Health Office, said they are considering Basul Island to host the isolation facility. Situated 4.1 kilometers away from the city proper, there are reportedly no people living in the island.

The island, with white sand beaches, is privately owned by Atty. Manuel Delani. It serves visiting tourists during island hopping. Delani could not be reached by MindaNews for comment.

In a meeting Wednesday at the Surigao City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), Atty. Manuel Coro, designate officer of CDRRMO, said the search for a potential isolation area is in response to the influx of overseas Filipino workers for the incoming holiday season. Coro noted that OFWs have started to arrive in the city.

He admitted that as of this time, Surigao City has no isolation area for Ebola patients, except for the isolation facility at the Caraga Regional Hospital. It is not, however, under the supervision of the Surigao City Health Office.

The CDRRMO is now allocating at least half a million pesos to be used for capacity building and trainings for health workers in the city’s 54 barangays, hiring of additional health workers, radio equipment, mobility expenses, among others. But Coro said it has yet to be approved by the city council.

Coro stressed that majority of the funds will be taken from City Disaster Fund.

He said the budget does not include the planned purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for those who will handle Ebola cases, but is preparing a separate budget for that.

Raul Salido, staff of the CDRRMC, said the city is now preparing plans to implement measures to handle Ebola cases, including setting up of booths or preparing an extra room in seaports and in the airport so they could attend to suspected cases.

Last week, staff of the Caraga Regional Hospital underwent training for proper handling of Ebola patients.

Dr. Andres Dolar, CRH chief, said the hospital is now ready to handle Ebola patients.