Iligan placed under MECQ

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 1 Sep) – The limited number of hospital beds and isolation units amidst rising coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases has prompted the national government to place the entire Iligan City under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), the only city in the Philippines with the strictest lockdown protocols.

A locally stranded individual (LSI) arrives at the Iligan City pier. MindaNews photo by RICHEL V. UMEL

The National Inter-Agency Task Force said the MECQ would remain in effect for all of September, which should have been the city’s busiest and most festive month as it celebrates the feast of St. Michael the Archangel on Sept. 29.

The Iligan Emergency Operation Center Health Cluster reported that as of August 31, the city has 312 total confirmed cases in 34 of its 44 barangays. Of these, 236 cases, or 75.6 percent, were infected locally. A total of 39 are reportedly admitted in medical facilities, 129 are in isolation facilities, 13 in home quarantine, and 121 have recovered. There were reportedly 10 deaths from these cases.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said during press briefing in Malacañang Monday night that while the COVID-19 cases in Iligan is not that high, some patients needed to be brought to Cagayan de Oro because of lack of hospital and isolation facilities.

Last August 19, Iligan City officials asked Mayor Oscar Moreno if they could rent hotel rooms in Cagayan de Oro for their returning residents and overseas workers.

Moreno had agreed to help and the Iligan City immediately started sending their residents and workers, including their COVID-19 patients, to Cagayan de Oro.

Rocky Calingin, Cagayan de Oro in-charge of billeting of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs), said 88 returning Iligan residents and workers who arrived at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental have been billeted and quarantined for 14 days in Cagayan de Oro’s hotels since August 19.

“Sixty-seven Iligan residents and workers have already finished their 14-day quarantine and have gone home,” he said.

Calingin said another 21 residents are still in Cagayan de Oro awaiting the results of their second RT-PCR tests.

Dr. Bernard Rocha, spokesperson of Northern Mindanao Medical Center, said three COVID-19 patients from Iligan have arrived at the NMMC, the main referral hospital for the disease in Northern Mindanao.

Following Malacañang’s directive to place Iligan under MECQ, Moreno directed his health officials to anticipate an influx of Iligan residents in Cagayan de Oro.

“Under the MECQ, Iligan will close again its borders except only for those authorized to travel,” Moreno said.

Moreno said the city government will continue to accommodate returning Iligan residents and workers during the one-month strict quarantine measures. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)