Mindanao now has 3 confirmed COVID-19 cases

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 18 Mar) – A 32-year-old native of Lanao del Sur who is now confined in Cotabato City is the third confirmed case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mindanao, a health official said, as Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi appealed to Muslim Filipinos who joined a big religious gathering in Malaysia to undergo self-quarantine to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

The Cotabato Regional and Medical Center. Photo from the CRMC Facebook page

Arjohn Gangoso, DOH-12 health education and promotion officer, told MindaNews that the third case was designated by the DOH national office as PH145, or the Philippines’s 145th confirmed case. He is now confined at the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center here and is now recovering, Gangoso added.

He said PH145 joined 214 other Filipino Muslim delegates in the tabligh gathering in Kuala Lumpur from February 27 to March 1 where 16,000 attended, 1,500 of them foreigners. That gathering was reportedly the source of most of Malaysia’s COVID-19 infection.

But one of those who went to the Malaysia gathering died at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City Tuesday. Member of Parliament Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson of the provincial task force on COVID-19 in Lanao del Sur, said the patient tested positive, according to laboratory results from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Manila, which came out after his death.

The first COVID-19 case in Mindanao was the Philippines’s Patient No. 40, designated by the Department of Health (DOH) as PH40. He was reportedly from Lanao del Sur, went home to Lanao del Sur via the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental, admitted at the Adventist Medical Center in Iligan City, then referred to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, where he died on March 13.

The second case is a 21-year-old female who came from the United Kingdom, admitted at the Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City and is reported to be doing well.

Mayor Sayadi, in a press briefing Tuesday, urged those tablighs who joined the Malaysia gathering to undergo self-quarantine to help prevent the spread of the virus in their respective homes or communities.

Cotabato Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi. MindaNews file photo by MANMAN DEJETO

She said she is worried that the actions now of the unchecked tablighs who refuse to submit themselves to medical checkup could bring more chaos.

“Submit yourself to mandatory self-quarantine, do not infect other people who still want to live. If you want to die, you go alone,” Sayadi said.

The mayor has sent a letter request to the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) to provide them the list of attendees for tracking purposes since most of the delegates were from Cotabato City and the Bangsamoro region.

Cotabato City has imposed on Tuesday a lockdown as enhanced community quarantine was observed all over the country.

“You cannot blame the city government to make drastic steps to protect its people from the dreaded disease,” Sayadi said.

Curfew is now from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. from the previous 10:30 p.m. to 4 a.m., taking effect Tuesday night. The move prompted business establishments to close as early as 7 p.m.

Sayadi urged neighboring localities to establish their own isolation rooms for those who will be found positive of COVID-19 and recommended for hospital quarantine.

The city has only 16 rooms for a worst emergency scenario, she said.

As of Monday, the city has 158 persons under monitoring (PUMs). (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)