Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday. The two Filipinos are currently confined in hospital, the DFA said, citing a report from the Philippine embassy there. The embassy said out of the 13 Filipinos infected with COVID-19, two have been discharged.
Department of Foreign Affairs Facebook page
Quarantine island off Basilan eyed for 200 Pinoys
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - March 21, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The military in Western Mindanao is eyeing a remote island off Basilan as a quarantine area for 200 homecoming Filipinos from Malaysia who are now stranded onboard several boats in the open sea after the vessels were barred from entering Zamboanga City port to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Filipinos, mostly Mindanao residents, coming from various parts of Malaysia decided to return home on board several vessels from Sabah to escape the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysian towns. “The military proposed building on Sibakel Island a quarantine area for 200 Filipino passengers stuck on vessels that were refused entry in Western Mindanao,” Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, of Zamboanga City-based Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said before the weekend.

The 200 stranded Filipinos, including 10 children, should undergo medical screening to determine whether they are persons under monitoring or investigation for COVID-19.

In line with this proposal, ateam composed of the military and representatives from concerned health and local government agencies inspected Sibakel Island. In Singapore, two more Filipinos tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 13 Filipino nationals, the

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday. The two Filipinos are currently confined in hospital, the DFA said, citing a report from the Philippine embassy there. The embassy said out of the 13 Filipinos infected with COVID-19, two have been discharged.

Sobejana said Sibakel is an isolated area with no existing infrastructure or source of potable water, but the place could accommodate 200 people with their basic needs provided by the government.

“The military intervention was brought by reports of Filipinos returning from Malaysia. Under the presidential proclamation, we have to accept them, but they have to undergo quarantine procedures,” Sobejana said.

In line with President Duterte’s declaration of a nationwide state of calamity, foreign travels to and from the country have been suspended. The travel suspension, however, exempts Filipinos who are returning home from abroad. Sobejana said once the proposal  is approved, the military intends to install 100 tents on Sibakel Island, half of which were being transported to the island yesterday. Sobejana, along with officials of the Department of Health, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the regional Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Western Mindanao, also discussed the quarantine setup for the returning Filipinos. “Deliberations were done as resources will have to be rationalized,” Sobejana said. – With Helen Flores, Roel Pareño

WESTERN MINDANAO
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