Lanao del Sur imposes more draconian measures to fight COVID-19

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 28 March) — With four COVID-19 positive cases and hundreds more persons under monitoring (PUM), the Lanao del Sur provincial government has imposed quarantine measures more draconian than in the days when fighting raged to regain control of Marawi City from Daesh-inspired Maute gunmen three years ago.

Col. Jose Maria Cuerpo, chief of Army 103rd Infantry Brigade said checkpoints manned by health workers, the police and soldiers stop vehicles at the provincial boundaries to check on the residents.

“Non-residents are advised to turn away. The measure covers NGOs and aid agencies unless they have informed us,” Cuerpo said,

He said they have advised NGOs and aid agencies that they cannot go inside the province to monitor their projects.

According to the March 27 report of the Ministry of Health of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,  the region has four confirmed COVID-19 cases with one death — PH201 who died at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City on March 17.

The report said the region has 182 persons under investigation (PUIs) and 6,605 PUMs. Out of this number, Lanao del Sur has 27 PUIs and 2,034 PUMs.

In its March 28 report, the MOH said Lanao del Sur has 29 PUs and 2,034 PUMs.

Zia Alonto Adiong, Member of the Bangsamoro Parliament and spokesperson of Lanao del Sur’s Task Force on COVID-19 said they have directed residents to stay home and  allow them go out on errands only if they have “quarantine home pass”.

Adiong said one family is entitled to one vehicle with the driver sitting in the front and the passenger at the back for “social distancing.”

“Our quarantine measures are more draconian today compared to the Marawi siege three years ago. This time we are more strict,” Adiong said.

He said they have also discouraged the holding of congregational prayers in all mosques in the province.

For Marawi residents living in various temporary shelter camps around the city, COVID-19 is another hardship they have to endure.

Sixty-four year-old Habib Ismail has taken to sleeping in his makeshift kitchen, the only way he can practice “social distancing” to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among his family of six .

“I am scared. I heard the virus is very contagious,” Ismail said.

His temporary house in Barangay Sagonsongan, Marawi City measures around 24 square meters (258 square feet)—the size of a pickup truck.

“But I have to protect my family,” Ismael said.

Ismail said there is a growing concern spreading in evacuation sites outside Marawi, where hundreds of families have been living a hand-to-mouth existence since Islamic State-linked militants seized the once-scenic city in 2017.

He said the uneasiness is growing especially when they heard reports that hundreds of residents were place under home quarantine.

Ismail is also worried about sanitation in their temporary camp in Sagonsongan, where clean water was a perennial problem for an estimated 1,000 families living there.

He said at best, a couple of trucks deliver water every week to the households. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)