This handout photo shows the quarantine tents set up on Sibakel Island in Basilan.
AFP Western Mindanao Command handout
Filipinos from Malaysia end quarantine on remote Sibakel Island
Roel Pareño ( - April 7, 2020 - 3:39pm

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The Filipinos from Malaysia who were quarantined on Sibakel Island off Basilan will be sent home after 21 days of quarantine without showing symptoms of COVID-19.

The 121 Filipinos who left Malaysia aboard a motorlaunch crossed the border and were stranded on the vessel for about a week when they were barred from docking in Jolo, Sulu and later in Maluso, Basilan on March 10.

This prompted Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Western Mindanao Command, to designate Sibakel Island off Lantawan town, Basilan as an isolation and quarantine area for the stranded Filipino migrants.

This was done in coordination with the local government, Department of Health and Department of Social Welfare and Development.

"They have stayed in the island for three weeks and remained to be asymptomatic," said Dr. Abdulhalik Kasim, assistant secretary at the Ministry of Health of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

"All of them are fine and are safe to return to their respective hometowns," he added.

Thirty-four have already been sent to Basilan as they are natives of the province while Westmincom facilitated and ferried the 87 others to Zamboanga City, according to Sobejana.

"We are happy to bring them back to Zamboanga safely and COVID-free," Sobejana said.

They will stay at the DSWD 9 compound before going to their home provinces when the quarantines are lifted, according to Dr. Kasim.

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