MARAWI CITY: The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is running low on food supplies and medical equipment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the region’s chief minister said on Friday.
Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, BARMM chief minister, told foreign media that his government has spent over $39 million (P1.9 billion) on its Covid-19 response until now.
“We are spending on medical, food, and other supplies, besides building quarantine facilities,” he said.
“But we are running short of food supplies as we have advised people to follow general quarantine rules. So, our focus at the moment is food production.”
He said extensive measures were taken early to prevent a full-scale outbreak in Bangsamoro.
“We enforced social distancing requirements, reduced working hours in offices, and barred gatherings, including religious ones,” Ebrahim said.
Educational institutions also remain closed, with online classes being held in areas with internet connectivity.
The steps have proven successful to an extent as the region of over five million people has 11 confirmed and 285 suspected coronavirus cases so far.
With only one hospital in the region equipped to treat Covid-19 cases, four of the 11 confirmed patients have died, while the remaining seven made successful recoveries.
Apart from just the solitary medical facility, lack of testing kits is another major problem for the region, according to Ebrahim.
“We are doing rapid testing as we do not have enough standard Covid-19 test kits. We have sent requests to the national government but are yet to receive any supplies,” he told Anadolu Agency.
He, however, acknowledged that the central government was facing a tough challenge in the capital Manila and northern parts of the Philippines.
They are the worst-hit areas of the archipelagic country, where the overall case count is over 12,000 with more than 800 deaths.
Ebrahim said the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) offered vital help to Bangsamoro by sending a mobile medical clinic to treat COVID-19 patients.
“We have asked for one more such clinic to bolster our capacity,” he said, adding that other Turkish aid organizations have also chipped in to help the region and its people.
“Other international groups and UN agencies are also supporting us in the fight against COVID-19,” he said.
MASIDING NOOR YAHYA