Cotabato City (March 23, 2020) — 196 of the 215 Filipino-Muslims who attended a Tabligh (Islamic preachers) gathering in Malaysia has now been identified by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 (BARMM-IATF).
The gathering, attended by over 16,000 people, was held from February 27 – March 1, in Kuala Lumpur’s Jamek Sri Petalling Mosque. It was reported to be linked to the spike of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Malaysia.
BARMM Cabinet Secretary Asnin Pendatun, also the IATF spokesperson, said in a press briefing on Monday, March 23, that the task force was able to get the passport numbers of those individuals who are now considered as Persons Under Monitoring (PUM).
“Pero kailangan muna nating i-validate isa-isa kasi hindi lahat ay galing sa Pilipinas at galing sa BARMM. Hindi rin lahat ay nakauwi na. Some are still in Malaysia,” Pendatun said.
“Ang importante may pangalan na sila at passport numbers, malaking tulong yun na ma-track natin sila,” he added.
The IATF has already identified 35 persons as residents of BARMM. They are now under strict monitoring, according to Pendatun.
“Karamihan sa mga na-trace natin ay asymptomatic at naka-quarantine sila, in fact, patapos na din ang 14 days quarantine nila”. Pendatun said.
As to the reports circulating that 16 of the 215 individuals are COVID-19 positive, Pendatun said: “As of now we don’t have official statement from the Department of Health so we cannot confirm that. We will validate it from the authorities first.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Health Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan said the BARMM-IATF has put under quarantine more than 400 Filipino deportees from Sabah, Malaysia.
“Meron tayong mga kapatid na Filipino deportees from Sabah. Deported po sila ng Malaysian Government and there are more than 400 of them na dumaong sa Maluso, Basilan,” Dipatuan said during Monday’s press briefing.
He reported 200 persons were identified to be residents of Basilan province and were taken in by the government of Basilan. Meanwhile, the rest are from the different areas of Mindanao, such as Zamboanga del Norte, Saranggani Province, General Santos, and Pagadian City.
“They were examined by (Ministry of Health) workers at itong mga taong ito ay inilagay na sila under PUM doon po sa kani-kanilang mga munisipyo,” Dipatuan noted.
27 of the deportees are identified as Persons Under Investigation (PUI) and 93 are PUMs. They are quarantined in Sibakil Island in Lantawan, Basilan.
Furthermore, the Local Government Unit of Basilan, the MOH, and the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) are working together to help the deportees.
“Kailangan natin mag-extend ng tulong sa mga kapatid natin. Nandoon na po sila sa mga oras (workers from BARMM) na ito,” Dipatuan said.
“They (deportees) will have to complete the period of quarantine in that island. Saka lamang sila makalalabas kapag natapos na ang period of quarantine, bago sila makakauwi sa kanilang mga probinsiya,” Dipatuan added.
As of date, the MOH has recorded a total of 157 PUI and 5,112 PUM across the Bangsamoro region. Maguindanao province has 20 PUI and 1,331 PUM; Lanao del Sur and Marawi City with 27 PUI and 1,489 PUM; Basilan and Lamitan City with 34 PUI and 985 PUM; Tawi-Tawi with 9 PUI and 584 PUM; and Sulu with 40 PUI and 630 PUM.
MOH has also recorded two confirmed COVID-19 cases in the region, including a patient from Amai Pakpak Hospital in Marawi City and in Northern Mindanao Medical Center, in Cagayan de Oro City.
Minister Dipatuan also said five deaths are recorded which were all from Lanao del Sur. One who died in Northern Mindanao Medical Center in Cagayan de Oro, two in Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City, and one in a Rural Health Facility in Binidayan town in Lanao del Sur. (Bureau of Public Information)