Iligan seeks return to ECQ status as COVID-19 cases surge but…

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 15 August) — A surge in COVID-19 cases in Iligan City has prompted local officials to ask the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force to allow them to revert to Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) status from the extended Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) to prevent more infections in the coming days.

Iligan Mayor Celso Regencia said they hope the IATF grants their request to return to ECQ status starting Monday, August 17, describing their situation as “dire” with 21 of their 44 barangays having third-degree local transmissions.

The national highway in downtown Iligan City. MindaNews file photo

Iligan City Information Officer Jose Pantoja said three clusters of infections were traced to a tailoring shop with17 workers testing positive; City Health Office with eight; and an agricultural school with six.

The DOH Northern Mindanao’s Center for Health Development reported that as of August 14, the number of cases in Iligan had reached a total of 128.

Dr. Adriano Suba-an,  regional director of the Department of Health in Northern Mindanao,  said 64 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in Iligan City from August 3 to 13.

Suba-an said the spike of COVID-19 cases is affecting the critical care capacity of Iligan’s hospitals and isolation units.

Nip in the bud

He also said frontliners face difficulty in tracing the contacts of infected patients.

“We have noted that there are positive cases now in Iligan city that we could no longer connect where the patient was infected,” Suba-an said.

He confirmed that they received a request from Mayor Regencia to place the entire city of Iligan under ECQ status.

Suba-an said however, there are other factors like economics; peace and order to consider before the request for ECQ would be approved.

“Iligan is a highly urbanized city. We in the regional IATF have to recommend that the National Inter-Agency Task Force,” Suba-an told reporters.

But Suba-an confirmed the situation in Iligan is “scary” and more stringent measures like ECQ should be implemented to “nip in the bud” the COVID-19 infections in the city.

“We have to contain, we have to act now to cut it in the bud, or else baka di na tayo makahabol” (we might not be able to cut the transmission), he said.

Mindanao under MGCQ

Nationwide, however, there is no area under ECQ, based on the announcement Saturday morning of Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

Roque, also spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said the IATF on August 14 placed Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Quezon in Luzon under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) from August 16 to 31, along with the cities of Iloilo, Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Talisay and the towns of Minglanilla and Consolacion in Cebu, in the Visayas.

The quarantine status of the Natinoal Capital region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal which are currently under MECQ, will be announced by President Rodrigo Duterte before the end of the MECQ classification in these areas on Tuesday.

Roque said the rest of the country – including all of Mindanao’s 27 provinces and 33 cities — are under MGCQ from August 16 to 31.

In the quarantine classification for August 1 to 15, only Zamboanga City was reverted to GCQ while the rest of Mindanao were already under MGCQ.

“Let us forget our borders”

COVID-19 patients seeking treatment in Cagayan de Oro City will not be turned away, Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno said.

Moreno declared  he will not order the police to stop COVID-19 patients from coming to the state-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center, the region’s main public hospital and main referral hospital for COVID-19 cases.

The Cagayan de Oro Health Office said four COVID-19 patients from Iligan City arrived at the NMMC for treatment.

Moreno also offered the Iligan City local government use of some of Cagayan de Oro’s isolation units if they need them.

“Let us forget our borders. We are all in the same boat in this pandemic. We should extend our help to Iligan,” he said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)