#COVID-19 Regional Updates (05/13/20)

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No new COVID-19 case reported in Western Visayas as region gears up for end of lockdown

WESTERN Visayas did not have a new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case reported on May 12 just as the region was declared among the areas with low transmission risk and can end lockdown measures by May 16.

Most local leaders in the region — which covers the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental and the independent cities of Iloilo and Bacolod — expressed readiness to lift lockdown rules as they prepared to release localized rules to ensure that the COVID-19 transmission threat will continue to be under control.

The Department of Health regional office has recorded 97 cases, with 39 recoveries and 10 deaths.

Of the active cases, 14 are in hospital, eight under home isolation, and 26 in government quarantine facilities.

Bacolod City Mayor Evelio R. Leonardia, who immediately called an inter agency meeting Tuesday, said a “unanimous decision” was reached to accept the national government’s pronouncement and end the lockdown.

“We will no longer appeal the decision,” he said in a streamed statement Tuesday evening.

In late April, local officials appealed the decision by the national task force to ease quarantine rules in the city by May 1.

The appeal was granted. Mr. Leonardia said the lifting of the quarantine rules will be a gradual transition.

“This will happen through a transitory executive order (then) for the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council) to come up with ordinances to further strengthen our position.”

The executive order; which will contain detailed provisions on the transition phase, will be released “the soonest possible time.”

On the other hand, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose V. Lacson has

appealed to maintain the general community quarantine policy in the province until May 31.

In a letter to the national task force dated May 12, Mr. Lacson cited that the twoweek extension will give them time to complete the accreditation of its own laboratory for COVID-19 testing, which is already in the 4th of 5 assessment stages.

“While the Negrenses are all eager to revive the economy and shift to the ‘new normal’ at the soonest possible time, our enthusiasm is tempered by the lack of a testing center.”

Mr. Lacson said the local government intends to establish a protocol “that all persons entering Negros Occidental should be placed in a holding facility for 1 to 2 days while test are conducted, and until the test results are released from our own bio-lab.”

In Iloilo City, Mayor Jerry P. Treñas reiterated that they have been preparing for the resumption of economic activities and look forward to having businesses operating again.

“It is important for local businesses to resume operations so they can also offer employment,” he said in a media briefing.

Mr. Treñas said he was scheduled to have a series of meetings Tuesday afternoon with various sectors — business, transport, and health services — to iron out details of the transition plan.

Iloilo Gov. Arthur R. Defensor, Jr. also welcomed the classification as a low-risk area saying “it proves that the efforts of the provincial government bore fruit.”

In a statement, Mr: Defensor said he was set to meet with the governors of the other provinces to discuss border restrictions.

We cannot just let our guards down. We will not relax because the problem is not yet over. COVID is still in the country,” he said. — Marifi S. Jara

Maguindanao hospital reopens after 24 years, ready as COVID-19 facility

A HOSPITAL in Maguindanao province, which has been closed for 24 years, has been refurbished and now ready for use as a coronavirus-disease 2019 (COVID-19) facility.

Maguindanao Governor Bai Mariam Mangudadatu, who led the opening ceremony on May 12, said the revival of the Parang District Hospital is not just a response to the COVID-19 crisis but a means of improving health services.

“We need not to focus solely on the relief assistance. Relief goods are not the remedy for COVID-19,” Ms. Mangudadatu is quoted in a statement released Wednesday by the Bangsmoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

“We are also looking forward into the future in which Parang District Hospital will also be a partner hospital in the Bangsamoro Government’s AMBAG program,” BARMM Cabinet Secretary Mohd Asnin Pendatun said.

AMBAG, or the Ayudang Medikal mula sa Bangsamoro Government, is a banner program of the regional government.

BARMM, which has been classified as a low-risk area and can start easing lockdown restrictions by May 16, has 12 recorded COVID-19 cases, with seven recoveries, one death, and one still under home quarantine. — MSJ