Lanao del Sur-Marawi City IATF confirms local transmission of COVID-19

ILIGAN CITY  (MindaNews / 09 August) –  The Joint Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 of the province of Lanao del Sur and the city of Marawi on Sunday announced there is now local transmission of the disease after verification and extensive contact-tracing of 21 recent COVID-19 cases showed they had no exposure or history of travel outside the area in the past 30 days.

The joint IATF issued the public statement dated August 7 but released only on Sunday. It was signed by Dr. Alinandir Minalang, Provincial Health Officer and IATF Deputy Chair and Marawi City Health Officer  Dr, Ali Dalidig, noted by Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr., and Mayor Majul Gandamra.

The Joint IATF said it was a “precautionary pronouncement” to ensure local governments, public and private health care providers and other stakeholders “can prepare for possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases.”

It also said that provincial, city and municipal IATFs  with the contact-tracing teams are currently exhausting all efforts to identify others who may have come in contact with the confirmed cases “to ensure that this localized transmission does not progress to community spread.”

All identified close contacts “are strictly isolated and placed on quarantine in accordance with established protocols and guidelines.”

Lanao del Sur’s COVID-19 cases surged from 183 on August 4 to 206 as of 6 p.m. on August 8, according to the Ministry of Health in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

As of 8 a.m. on August 9,  the Provincial Government of Lanoa del Sur reported 28 active COVID-19 cases, 14 of them admitted at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center (AMPC) in Marawi City, five on home quarantine and nine admitted in a facility quarantine.

Since the start of the outbreak, the province has recorded  175 recoveries and six deaths, including a resident of Marawi City  who died at the APMC on August 8 and was buried by PDRRMO personnel in the evening.

Minalang said the patient, a resident of Barangay Datu Saber in Marawi City, was admitted at the hospital on August 5 and had no known travel history outside the province of Lanao del Sur.

Last July 30, another Marawi resident, a 41-year-old male, died of COVID-19 at the same hospital.

The total number of cases as of 8 a.m. on August 9 had reached 175 recoveries, 28 active cases and six deaths.

“Local transmission is real and all residents are advised to stay at home,  observe and adopt the health protocol seriously,” APMC Chief Dr. Shalimar Rakiin said.

As part of tier precautionary measures, the Provincial Capitol in Marawi City will be temporarily closed for disinfection from August 10 to 13, said Jenny Alonto Tamano, Provincial Information Officer. Tamano said all employees were advised to work from home and observe health protocol.

Sheila Divnani Ganda,  IATF focal person, said there are close to 800  provincial employees excluding national line agencies, who work in the  capitol compound.

Ganda said 60 personnel of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office  are under a 14-day quarantine at the Annex building after they buried a patient who died of COVID-19 at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center.

She said the provincial government provided support for them including their families, and a doctor takes care of them while they are under quarantine.

On July 22, the Sanguiniang Panlalawigan  passed Resolution No. 05 imposiing penalties for violation of health protocols.

Last July 30, another Marawi resident, a 41-year-old male, died of COVID-19 at the same hospital.

The third fatality in Lanao del Sur, a three-year-old boy, a resident of Malabang town, Lanao del Sur who died at the Cotobato Regional Medical Center in Cotabato City last July 19.

This brings the total death due to COVID-19 to six in Lanao del Sur since March this year.

“We were surprised with how fast the infections in the past six days. We were  surprised because none have a travel history,” Lanao del Sur COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force focal person Shiela Ganda said.

Ganda said none of the families of the 159 positive cases of returning residents (LSIs) who recovered and sent home, were infected in the new spike.

More than 1, 441 residents from Manila went home to Marawi and Lanao del Sur between July 6 to 15.

She said this only mean that the infection came from visiting relatives who came from nearby cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. (Richel V. Umel with a report by Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)

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