ILIGAN CITY: Four locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who have just returned to the two Lanao provinces were found to be asymptomatic carriers of coronavirus disease over the weekend.
In Lanao del Sur, Dr. Shalimar Rakiin, chief of Amai Pakpak Medical Center, said the two female individuals tested positive from the swab test taken in the isolation facility in the village of Sagonsongan, Marawi City.
Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr., who is also the chairman of the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Covid-19, the two LSIs came from Laguna and Metro Manila by plane and arrived separately in Laguindingan Airport in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental on June 3 and 5, respectively.
“They are now on strict isolation at our Provincial Ligtas Covid-19 Center Quarantine Facility. They are currently asymptomatic and being taken care of in accordance with the Department of Health protocols while contact tracing is going on,” Adiong said.
As of Sunday (June 7), a total of 480 rapid diagnostic tests were performed for the newly arrived LSIs and returning OFWs who availed of the government’s “Balik Probinsya”.
“We assure the public that the Provincial IATF is doing its best to avert the community transmission of Covid-19. We are asking our families and friends in the province and Marawi City to stay home as much as possible to reduce chances of spread, observe physical distancing when going out of essential errands and follow established health protocols,” Adiong said.
2 cases in Lanao Norte
In Lanao del Norte, meanwhile, the Incident Management Team also reported a returning OFW and LSI from Manila, were also confirmed positive in reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.
The two individuals have been admitted to the Kapatagan Provincial Hospital Annex isolation facility, according to Lyndon Calica, IMT Incident commander.
“One of the patients who came from Manila was an LSI and resident of Linamon town and his arrival was unrecorded and did not coordinate the established health protocol of the province and created a stir among residents. The said individual arrived at the quarantine checkpoint June 4 in the evening from Laguindingan Airport onboard a van from Laguindingan with other LSIs,” Calica said.
Based on the Lanao del Norte Integrated Provincial Health Office’s (IPHO) report, the patient was tested in Manila and IPHO received the positive test result on June 5.
The local government units where the LSIs lived were immediately informed that the patients should be transferred to their respective patient care centers, IPHO said.
Lanao del Sur received an additional 124 LSIs and OFWs who arrived on Saturday afternoon (June 6) at Laguindingan Aiport via a sweeper flight.
Shiela Ganda, in-charge of the sub-task force on the management of LSIs and OFWs, said the provincial government of Lanao del Sur spent almost PHP1 million pesos to charter the flight as part of Lanao del Sur Balik Probinsiya program.
Lanao del Sur’s IATF was expecting 159 individuals, including children, to arrive based on the recorded request of the returning residents.
“There are 34 who did not show up at the airport. Perhaps, other passengers were not able to complete or get their travel authority,” Ganda said.
Ganda said the provincial government was actually planning to charter the flight for 38 young Meranaw scholars called Morits. They are coming from Saudi Arabia studying to become Aleem, a religious Muslim leader.
Only 27 of them were able to board the flight and the rest were left in Manila.
Asimoden Abdullah, 23, one of the scholars, said he arrived in Saudi Arabia in January to start the first semester of his four-year study of Arabic. He wanted to become an Aleem and he wanted to serve his hometown in Butig.
He said there were 48 of them repatriated from Saudi Arabia through the help of the provincial government of Lanao del Sur and the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
The other 10 scholars were going home in different provinces in Luzon, according to Abdullah.
They were quarantined for 14 days in Saudi Arabia before they were allowed to board the chartered flight that would bring them to the Philippines on April 28.
They were not swabbed for Covid-19 testing in the country they came from, he said.
“They said the result will not be accepted when we arrive in the Philippines. We were swabbed when we arrived in the Philippines. Thank God, the results are all negative,” he said.
As of June 6, Ganda said some more than LSIs and returning overseas Filipinos have been facilitated to return to Marawi City and different municipalities in Lanao del Sur.
Ganda said despite having completed the 14-day quarantine and other health protocols at their place of origin, they still have to undergo the same medical procedures upon their arrival at the provincial quarantine facility in Barangay Sagonsongon in Marawi City.
“They will go straight to the quarantine facility in Sagonsongan for triaging and rapid testing and clinical assessment by the local health team waiting for them at the facility,” Ganda said.
“Those who are coming from areas with no confirmed cases of Covid-19 will be advised for a strict home quarantine but the barangay LGU will assess if the house has its proper comfort and bathrooms and is well-ventilated,” she added.
(PNA/ Richel Umel and Divina Suson/ SRNY/ RSP)