Local governments have hands full with returning residents, OFWs
LOCAL government units (LGU) around the country have been on the double setting up isolation facilities — tapping sports centers, unutilized housing projects, and other public and even private spaces — as residents start coming home after being stranded elsewhere in the country due to the lockdowns or returning from overseas work. In Dipolog City, capital of Zamboanga del Norte, the LGU purchased rapid test kits and modular isolation tents to handle what are now labelled as locally stranded individuals (LSIs) who could possibly be carrying the virus. “Both (kits and tents) are part and parcel of the preparedness and response intervention of the city government in addition to the current health and emergency services provided by our Corazon C. Aquino Hospital, City Health Office and the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office,” Mayor Darel Dexter Uy T. Uy said. Zamboanga del Norte has so far only one recorded coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case, a patient at a hospital in Metro Manila who has travel history in Dipolog. In Ormoc a housing project with 699 units has been converted into the Ligtas COVID center to isolate LSIs and even families together for 14 days before being allowed to go back to their communities. The first batch of returning Ormoc residents are expected May 26. The city government, meanwhile, has also announced that Energy Development Corp. (EDC) has offered to donate equipment for the planned RT-PCR testing facility that will be set up at the private OSPA Farmers Medical Center.
Governor Manuel N. Mamba of Cagayan, which like all other LGUs have set up online platforms for LSIs who are not just required to undergo quarantine but also need to comply with several documentary requirements, said the stringent rules are necessary to “avoid the danger brought by COVID-19.” Bohol Gov. Arthur C. Yap expressed the same position saying “aggressive prevention must be sustained because it is our best weapon” against the dreaded virus.” Bohol has maintained a zero COVID-19 status since one case in January, a Chinese tourist who has since recovered and left the island province. Mr. Yap added, “We can manage, but we also have to admit the limitation of our healthcare system in case of one infection graduating into an outbreak.” Of the 14,035 cases in the country, about 65% are in the National Capital Region and about another 15% are concentrated in the highly-urbanized cities such as Cebu, Davao and Zamboanga. Meanwhile, Philippine National Police chief Gen. Archie Francisco F. Gamboa has ordered cops to allow LSIs without quarantine passes to move around to process documents needed to return to their hometowns. Mr. Gamboa cited LSIs such as students who were stranded in Metro Manila when the lockdown was implemented. “I hope policemen who are listening now, dapat iba ‘yung trato nila kapag (they should give a different treatment to) LSIs because our intention is pauwiin siya sa probinsya (to let them go home to the province),” Mr. Gamboa said in an interview over ANC.— Marifi S. Jara and Emmanuel Tupas/PHILSTAR