Mine firms in Itogon, Benguet remain on lockdown

MINING firms located in Itogon, Benguet remain on lockdown due to the increasing number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) confirmed cases in the town.

In a disclosure to the Securities and Exchange commission on Tuesday, October 27, Itogon-Suyoc Resources Inc. (Isri), a subsidiary of Apex Mining Co. Inc., was included in the localized lockdown issued by the barangay captain of Barangay Poblacion on October 23 due to the reported Covid-19 cases.

Isri said its Sangilo Mine in Itogon has recorded more than 80 Covid-19 cases as of October 26.

"Operation will resume upon completion of contact tracing and swab testing and only those with negative results will be allowed to return to work," Isri said. "Management is still awaiting all results of the swab tests conducted by the Rural Health Unit (RHU)."

It added that its operation will resume upon completion of contact tracing and swab testing, and only those with negative results will be allowed to return to work.

Isri said it has doubled up on its mitigation measures, disinfecting all the areas where the Covid-19 cases were identified and the company's containment facility is ready to accommodate patients.

"As of this disclosure, the potential impact of these Covid-related developments to Isri's operations and financial results are still undetermined. We will advise you of any development regarding this matter," the company added.

Since October 24, Benguet Corporation (BC) mine site in Balatoc, Virac, Itogon was also placed on lockdown.

Lawyer Froilan Roger Lawilao, BC administration manager, said with the lockdown, only few administrative employees are allowed to work while miners are barred from entering.

"As discussed with the mayor, governor, and DOH, the lockdown is until further notice. We have to prioritize the welfare of our employees. Although the positive cases are not employees but from bunkhouse occupants," he added.

Dr. Oliver Guadana, Itogon municipal health officer, said disinfection activities were conducted in the bunkhouses by the Municipal Health Services Office (MHSO) with the help of BCI.

Guadana said Isri is housing its employees who tested positive for the virus in their own facility.

Philex Mines Corporation earlier suspended its operation in Padcal, Tuba for two days, October 23 and 24, for swab testing.

Based on the data disclosed by the Tuba Municipal Government Unit, from October 19 to 27, there were 137 individuals from Philex Mines who tested positive for the virus, as a result of the swab testing conducted in Sto. Nino Hospital-Philex.

As of Wednesday, October 28, Itogon and Tuba have 243 and 202 confirmed cases.

The Itogon Municipal Health Office said there are 187 active cases who are housed in different isolation facilities in the town.

Thirty-eight cases were added on Tuesday, October 27, while seven have recovered.

"These new cases were close contacts of cases in Poblacion (ISRI employees) and Virac (BC)," Mayor Victorio Palangdan said.

The MHSO reported that 51 percent of the active cases are asymptomatic while 49 percent are experiencing mild symptoms.

On Monday, October 26, Purok II and III, Supang, Suyo, Beda and Lucbuban, all in Barangay Poblacion, were placed on lockdown to give way for faster contact tracing.

Sitios Letbek and Anuvang in Tinongdan, Acupan and Balatoc in Virac and Camp 6 Philex in Ampucao were also on lockdown.

On October 27, the Cordillera Task Force Covid-19 set Implan Tugon, a Covid-19 response, for the sudden surge and clustering of cases in the towns of Itogon and Tuba.

The Oplan TuGon (Tuba and Itogon), initiated by Office of Civil Defense Cordillera, together with Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of the Interior and Local Government and Department of Public Works and Highways, met with Itogon officials.

DSWD delivered 1,000 food packs to the affected families. (Lauren Alimondo)


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