ILIGAN CITY -- Lanao del Sur and Marawi City on Friday declared the extension of their enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to April 30 due to limited medical resources in the province and to implement other precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
In a phone interview with Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong, Jr. on Saturday, he said an extension has to be made despite the declining number of confirmed cases, patients under investigation (PUIs), and persons under monitoring (PUMs) in the province, and as the number of confirmed cases in the Philippines continues to rise.
“We (province) should be vigilant and really check on our areas. Even if the reported cases in the province is flattening, we should prevent the possibility of a ‘second wave’ of the pandemic,” Adiong said in Filipino.
He said if ever a “second wave” of the pandemic ever happens like in Japan, the medical resources of the province will not be able to hold out and accommodate too many patients and persons under observation.
“Our health facilities in the province is not complete. We have a lack in facilities,” Adiong said. “If the pandemic worsens, we will not be able to make it.”
Amai Pakpak Medical Center only has 18 isolation rooms and seven ventilators, according to said Dr. Alinader Minalang, Lanao del Sur Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) Provincial Health Officer, in a video posted by Provincial Government of Lanao del Sur Facebook page.
He added that they also lack personal protective equipment (PPE) and has not enough doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. The province also has no capability to conduct Covid-19 mass testing.
“We need enough time to prepare for the pandemic further,” Dr. Minalang said.
Adiong added that this is also based on the recommendation of the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
He furthered that many do not want the extension because Ramadhan is fast approaching, but an extension was needed to prevent the number of PUIs from rising again.
Congregating in masjids in the province is still not allowed as part of the physical distancing policies to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Most Covid cases are from Manila and Davao region... This is a big threat to our province. If we open the province and Marawi City, many may come in who have the virus with them,” said Dr. Minalang.
Allocation of temporary quarantine facilities
Some of the measures already taken by the province against the spread of Covid are the allocation of 14 hospital rooms in Marawi City Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC) where confirmed COVID patients will be confined.
Fourty-six newly-constructed units in the Provincial Employees Village in Baragay Emi-Punod, Marawi City were also converted into temporary quarantine facilities for PUIs, to be operated by the Lanao del Sur IPHO and APMC under the supervision of the provincial LGU.
The units already have water and electricity and were installed with fences. The equipment, facilities, and furnishing were from the province, Lanao del Sur IPHO, and the Makati Medical Foundation; while the water tank were from Pepsi Cola Company and the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), according to the Province’s Facebook page.
Should another ECQ extension happen again, the province will also distribute seed and farm materials to about 500 farmers and backyard gardeners on Monday dubbed Sapadan sa Iranon “to ensure access to quality and nutritious food in Lanao del Sur in the midst of coronavirus,” according to the Province’s Facebook page.
Adiong also said that they have released fish fingerlings to Lake Lanao to further ensure food security in the province during the pandemic.
“We (province) will do all that it can to provide aid to our residents using the province’s own efforts,” Adiong said.
Relief distribution and IRA cash assistance release
Adiong said barangay local government units (BLGUs) and mayors in the province have been given authority to use their internal revenue allotment (IRA) for their barangays to purchase relief goods.
As of Saturday, the province has already distributed food packs to 20 of 39 municipalities and one city in Lanao del Sur. Four municipalities are being served every day.
Furthermore, Adiong said that the National Government will be giving a cash aid equivalent to the IRA of a city or municipality in a month for the costs of relief distribution during the quarantine.
Furthermore, cards for the social amelioration program by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will also be distributed next week.
According to Adiong, barangay chairpersons should be the one handling the distribution of the funds, but the DSWD and municipal governments will also be involved to ensure that the relief is distributed.