By MASIDING NOOR YAHYA |Acting Editor-In-Chief
MANILA: Coronavirus cases are rising in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) because of people coming back from abroad, other parts of Philippines, the region’s leader said on Thursday.
“The reason behind the sudden increase in [COVID-19] cases is the return of overseas workers, students, and other people from Metro Manila,” Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, the region’s interim chief minister, told reporters.
Ebrahim said the national government has asked people from other parts of the country living in Manila to return to their hometowns.
72 confirmed positive cases
The Bangsamoro Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) has recorded a total of 72 confirmed Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.
BIATF spokesperson Mohd Asnin Pendatun said as of Thursday, June 18, of these 72 cases, 56 are considered active cases, while 12 have recovered and 4 died.
Pendatun noted that the six latest positive cases recorded on Wednesday, June 17, and another one on June 18, were Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) and Returning Overseas Filipino Workers (ROFs) who availed the Hatid Probinsya Program of the government.
“These new cases are five LSIs in Lanao del Sur, five Returning OFWs in Maguindanao and just today, one LSI from Maguindanao was added to our list of confirmed cases,” Pendatun said during a press briefing here on Thursday.
LGUs asked to be vigilant
With the rapid increase of Covid-19 cases in the region, Health Minister Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan reminds the Local Government Units (LGU) to be vigilant.
While the BARMM supports the government’s Hatid Probinsya program, Dipatuan noted that the increase of Covid-19 cases in the region is linked to the LSI and ROF, thus, proper coordination with the LGU is necessary.
Dipatuan affirmed that there are also people who violate community quarantines and do not abide by the travel restrictions imposed by some LGUs.
“We appeal to everyone, especially those who travel by land to pass through the protocol, you can’t just go back to your communities without coordination with the LGUs,” Dipatuan stressed.
He said the LGU must be keen on any suspicious actions done by these people and immediately report them to the police stations.
“We have to ask for the law enforcers’ assistance to protect our health workers, because we have reports of harassments towards our front liners,” Dipatuan explained.
Patients treated in 5 main hospitals
Ebrahim said five main hospitals are treating COVID-19 patients and another one is under construction.
A 100-bed facility was opened in the Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao area last month, built in just 40 days at a cost of P21 million.
The chief minister said the issue of food security in the autonomous region had been addressed “a little bit” for now.
“We are running a campaign to increase local agricultural production,” he said, adding that rice imports from Vietnam also improved the situation.
PHILIPPINE MUSLIM TODAY