Agusan del Sur starts lockdown April 1

Agusan del Sur starts lockdown April 1

PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 31 March) – The entire province of Agusan del Sur will be under lockdown starting Wednesday, April 1, as provincial officials wanted to make sure that the rising cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Davao Region will not spread in this landlocked province.

Bus passengers join a queue for their body temperature to be taken with a thermal scanner in a checkpoint in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur. MindaNews file photo by CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN

Gov. Santiago Cane Jr. is expected to sign an executive order (EO) at 5 a.m. Wednesday regarding the lockdown policy which will no longer allow motorists, even residents who wanted to go home, to enter the province.

A copy of the EO is not yet available at press time, but Alfredo V. Plaza, Provincial Public Information Officer and spokesperson of the Provincial COVID-19 Task Force, said among those exempted are vehicles providing essential services such as food and health care, regional bank heads travelling on important tasks, police and military personnel.

Cane said the lockdown is a stringent preventive measure in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases in neighboring Davao Region even as Agusan del Sur and the entire Caraga Region remain free from positive cases of the dreaded virus that has caused global pandemic since January.

The governor was waiting from other local chief executives in the neighboring provinces of Caraga Region to pursue the lockdown measure all on the same day based on their earlier commitments during a regional meeting. But it was only Surigao del Norte Gov. Francisco Matugas who told him in a phone call that they will also do a lockdown on April 1.

The Provincial COVID-19 Task Force, which Cane heads, had already prepared the EO on Monday morning and agreed that the governor must sign it on Wednesday, April 1, even as other governors in the region have not yet acted on it.

In his social media post, the governor said Caraga Region cannot afford to have a single COVID-19 case in the absence of a Level III hospital in any part of the region which can attend and treat confirmed cases.

“A single confirmed case is one too many to handle. It’s time to shield our region from the virus,” Cane said.

He explained that any positive COVID-19 case that will come out in the province and in the region could not be possibly attended by doctors in the Level III hospitals in Davao City, Tagum City and Cagayan de Oro City where they would surely prioritize local patients as they are already overcrowded.

Stranded college students from the Mindanao State University in Marawi City who hails from this province were told by Cane to stay put in the school as he will send a team there to personally give financial assistance for their food and basic necessities.

The students have pleaded for Cane to fetch them but the turn of events which prompted the lockdown measure aborted the plan to help them.

Local netizens’ call for a lockdown in the passage of vehicles coming from neighboring provinces, especially with the rising confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Davao Region, has snowballed since last week. (Chris V. Panganiban / MindaNews)