COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 23 March) — Nineteen Muslim Filipinos who attended the recent tabligh gathering in Malaysia have been placed under medical quarantine there after testing positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the National Commission on Muslim Filipino-Region 12 said Monday.
A total of 215 Muslim Filipinos attended the convention held from February 27 to March 1 at the Jamek Sri Petaling mosque near Kuala Lumpur — 115 from Lanao del Sur including Marawi City, and 100 from Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and other parts of the country.
In a phone interview, Mama Sinsuat, NCMF-12 director, said the Malaysian Ministry of Health informed him about the condition of the 19 Muslim Filipinos.
“There was no clearance for them to go back after medical check-ups found them positive for COVID-19,” he said.
Two of the Filipino Muslims who attended the gathering and had gone back were earlier found positive of COVID-19. One of them died in Marawi City a week ago.
Three others were classified as persons under investigation (PUI).
The Malay Mail, a Malaysian newspaper, earlier reported that 513 Malaysians who attended the gathering had tested positive of the virus.
The tabligh convention drew around 16,000 participants from different countries, 14,500 of them Malaysians.
Sinsuat said the Malaysian Ministry of Health provided him the names of 14 of those who attended from the Philippines.
He added he would relay to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) the names for them to help in the contract tracing.
Mohammad Asnin Pendatun, BARMM Cabinet secretary and COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force spokesperson, said they have 159 names out of the 196 believed to have returned to the country.
Sinsuat admitted they were having difficulty tracing the tabligh attendees “because the event was informal and that there was no coordination conducted by the delegates with the NCMF.”
Even the head of the delegation has not been identified because there was a lack of coordination, he said.
Sinsuat said most of the tabligh missionaries from the Philippines travelled to Malaysia by sea through the backdoors in Tawi-tawi and Palawan.