By SITTI SHEIBA NY-CASAN
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY: Local chief executives of the provinces and the highly urbanized cities in Northern Mindanao region have joined a videoconference convened by the Northern Mindanao Task Force for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on Wednesday to address the issue of COVID-19 in the region.
This is the first meeting of the task force attended by local leaders as members, as membership was expanded to elected officials to be part of regional decision-making process.
Regional Task Force Chair and Health Task Group head Regional Director Adriano P. Suba-an of the Department of Health-Center for Health Development of Region 10 (DOH-CHD-10), provided some updates on the COVID cases in the region.
Suba-an explained that confirmed cases in an area are based on the addresses of the patients. “Hence, the 11 confirmed cases all reside in Northern Mindanao; three of them were admitted, five were discharged and three expired,” he added.
Task Force on top of situation
Suba-an assured the body the Health Task Group is on top of the situation.
To date, 75 health workers have been placed in a facility under quarantine, with 40 already discharged.
The DOH NorMin Kamusta Ka Hotline, a program that provides mental health support to those experiencing stress and needing assistance during the pandemic, accommodated 726 clients from 25 March to 14 April 2020 through phone calls, messages and social media interactions, Suba-an said.
In terms of specimen collection, 159 were sent for testing, 808 calls for assistance were attended, and 55 facilities were provided assistance, he added.
“We’re happy to say that the proposed COVID-19 testing laboratories in the region are at Stage 2 level, which is for validation. Our next steps are to address identified gaps such as floor planning and personnel training,” shared Director Suba-an.
The agency head emphasized that DOH-CHD has daily and weekly monitoring tools in place to collect, process, and monitor data on the cases. He also sought the support of the local chief executives in reminding the health facilities that have not been complying with the required report.
Extension of bill payments
NEDA-10 Regional Director and Economy Task Group Head Mylah Faye Aurora B. Carino, relayed the results of resolutions passed, which include extensions of bill payments for utilities, payment for permits/fees with the Environmental Management Bureau and Mines and Geosciences Bureau, payment for real property and business taxes in El Salvador City, and real property tax dues in Gingoog City, as well as waived penalties for late registration with the Land Transportation Office.
Telecom service providers responded to the group’s request and allowed extended payments and instalment schemes that are payable in six months, Carino said.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-10 Assistant Regional Director Yvette Tolentino-Sunga also reported for Governance and Management of the Dead task groups saying that they are closely monitoring the local government’s implementation of community quarantine including the facilities and services offered.
Moreover, Department of Tourism (DOT)-10 Regional Director Marie Elaine S. Unchuan, head of the International Humanitarian Assistance and Inter-Government Relations task group announced that the efforts to repatriate foreign nationals ran smoothly.
Uchuan said that recently, sweeper flights ferried out stranded citizens and residents of Canada in coordination with the Canadian Embassy and Philippine Airlines. “There will be another flight sponsored by the Australian Embassy,” Director Unchuan added.
Also presented during the meeting were reports of the Logistics, Food and Non-Food Items, Crisis Communication, Law and Order, and Search, Rescue and Retrieval Task Groups.
Concerns of local chief executives
The concerns raised by the local chief executives on the flow of basic goods and commodities, protocols at checkpoints and on the social amelioration program, among others were also addressed during the meeting.
Regional Director Rosauro Arnel Q. Gonzales Jr. of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-10 who heads the Logistics Task Group and secretariat of the task force, presented the NDRRMC Memorandum No. 32 (s. 2020) on the COVID-19 process flow of reporting for compliance by all LGUs and regional line agencies.
The body reviewed and polished the seven approved resolutions from the third meeting of the task force, and passed a resolution seeking clarification from the National Inter-Agency Task Force on the payment of hazard pay in areas that have not declared Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
Task Force Chair Suba-an summed up the session by reminding the local governments in attendance that functional task forces at the provincial, municipal and city levels should be in place to ensure coordinated and coherent actions to win the battle against COVID-19.
(Sitti Sheiba NY-Casan)