CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 19 Aug) – The National COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force cited geographic location, lack of isolation units, weak contact tracing and the lack of testing center as factors that contributed to the spike in coronavirus disease cases in Iligan City.
Secretary Carlito Galvez, National Inter-Agency Task Force chief implementor, said Iligan City is a melting pot for travelers from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the rest of Northern Mindanao as one of the major factors.
He also said Iligan City lacks isolation units to secure patients infected with COVID-19.
“COVID-19 asymptomatic patients were allowed to move freely in the communities,” Galvez said during the daily presser at the Cagayan de Oro City Hall Wednesday.
Iligan Mayor Celso Regencia has asked Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno if Iligan could rent hotels here to house their returning residents arriving at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental.
Galvez arrived today with Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong who will train PNP personnel and Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTS) on contact tracing.
He said contact tracing is one of the weaknesses of the Iligan anti-COVID-19 campaign, which has to be addressed.
Galvez recommended to the Iligan local government unit (LGU) to invest on testing centers to have quick results on its tests.
His reason why the request of the Iligan LGU to place the entire city under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was rejected: “Unless the Iligan City government has the money to buy food for its residents, Mayor Regencia should not implement an ECQ.”
Galvez said Regencia should instead implement limited lockdowns on puroks and barangays where infected patients came from.
He said Cagayan de Oro and Davao City are examples on how to implement limited lockdowns on puroks and barangays.
Galvez also denied that Rep. Frederick Siao, of Iligan’s lone congressional district, influenced the decision of the IATF to reject Regencia’s request for ECQ.
He said IATF decided on the ECQ request based on how Iligan handled its critical care and case doubling time.
Iligan’s Emergency Operation Center reported that as of Tuesday, the city has 167 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, 104 (or 64 percent) of which were infected locally. Twenty-seven of Iligan’s 44 barangays, or 61 percent, already have positive cases.
Dr. Adriano Suba-an, regional director of the Department of Health in Northern Mindanao, said earlier that Iligan now has third-degree local transmissions. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)