Over 100 Sabah evacuees finish quarantine on Basilan island
ZAMBOANGA CITY –– More than a hundred persons, who were isolated in a remote island in Basilan province, have completed their 21-day quarantine and are ready to be reunited with their families in various parts of Mindanao.
They escaped Sabah middle of last month after the rising number of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases were reported there.
However, the three wooden-hulled boats they took to Taganak island in Tawi-Tawi were barred from calling on the port by authorities, citing quarantine measures imposed to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
The boats continued to sail to Sulu and were also refused entry until the vessels reached Basilan, where they asked for help.
The military’s Western Mindanao Command, in coordination with Basilan provincial officials, prepared Sibakil island as the site for the evacuees’ quarantine, which they completed last April 6.
“They have stayed on the island for three weeks and remained asymptomatic,” Dr. Abdulhalik Kasim, Bangsamoro assistant health minister, described the evacuees’ condition.
“All of them are fine and are safe to return to their respective hometowns,” Kasim added.
Of the evacuees, 87 were transported by Westmincom here, where they would set off for their respective places.
“We are happy to bring them back to Zamboanga safely and COVID-19—free,” said Westmincom chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana.
Sobejana added that the rest remained on the island while waiting for the time they could enter Sulu, which is still on a province-wide lockdown.
Of the 87, 10 are from this city, and were fetched by their respective barangay officials and brought home.
The 77 others temporarily stayed at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional compound here while waiting for the lockdown orders in their respective provinces and cities to be lifted.
They are from Zamboanga del Norte (25), Zamboanga del Sur (16), Zamboanga Sibugay (9), Misamis Occidental (6), Lanao del Norte (1), Cagayan de Oro City (2), Tawi-Tawi (8), Davao City (4), General Santos City (1), Leyte (1), Bulacan (1), Quezon City (1), Sultan Kudarat (1), and Bohol (1).
The evacuees thanked the soldiers for taking care of their needs while on quarantine in Sibakil, which is 40 minutes away on a speedboat from Lantawan town in Basilan.
The DSWD, the Bangsamoro health ministry, the Department of Health, and the Zamboanga city government, among others, provided food for the evacuees while on quarantine on Sibakil island.
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