Tawi-Tawi hospital shut down amid COVID-19 spread

72 medical front-liners, including 8 doctors, in Bongao health center positive for coronavirus

COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao Philippines —Health officials in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have ordered the shutdown of a government hospital in Bongao town, Tawi-­Tawi province, after 72 health-care providers, including eight doctors, contracted the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Dr. Amirel Usman, acting regional health minister, approved the request of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (Ipho) in Tawi-Tawi to temporarily close Datu Halun Sakilan Memorial Hospital (DHSMH) after personnel attending to COVID-19 patients in its isolation facility tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the disease.


“[This is a] very alarming situation,” Usman said.

He said closing the hospital for other health services would help prevent the spread of the virus. But the isolation center within the hospital compound will continue to operate to attend to the health needs of 80 new infections.



Usman has also allowed Ipho and hospital authorities to temporarily reassign health-care workers from other stations in the province to augment the remaining personnel at DHSMH.

He directed Tawi-Tawi health officials to request the BARMM Ministry of Health to send more doctors to the province. He also advised women who are giving birth to go to barangay and rural health stations, and private lying-in clinics as the hospital could not accommodate them.

Municipal health stations will assume other services of DHSMH, such as consultations, outpatient department services and minor surgeries.

BARMM, Caraga cases

“If health-care workers fall victims to this outbreak, then we have shattered our first and only line of defense against the pandemic. We need to support our health-care workers with everything we’ve got before it’s too late,” said BARMM lawmaker Eddie Mapag Alih, a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority parliament, in a statement.

Tawi-Tawi, as of this week, had recorded 104 COVID-19 cases, with seven deaths.

On Sunday, 29 new cases were reported in the BARMM, raising the total number of COVID-19 infections in the region to 1,083.


The region has 255 active cases and recorded 787 recoveries and 41 deaths.

In Caraga, the regional Department of Health’s Center for Health Development (CHD) identified four towns and cities with new cases of local virus transmission.

Sixteen of the 34 new cases on Saturday were reported in the towns of Nasipit, Remedios T. Romualdez, Buenavista and the city of Cabadbaran in Agusan del Norte province; San Francisco town in Agusan del Sur province; and Surigao City.

CHD monitored a total of 560 cases of local transmission in the region, or 50 percent of the 1,125 COVID-19 cases in the region.

San Francisco Mayor Solomon Rufila placed at least three villages under lockdown after an elderly couple was reported to have contracted COVID-19 from three health workers at a private hospital.

The town’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on Saturday passed a resolution asking the provincial IATF to revert its status from modified general community quarantine to modified enhanced community quarantine to restrict the movement of people as a measure to stop the spread of the disease.

Agusan del Sur Gov. Santiago Cane Jr. has canceled all meetings, training and social gatherings. He asked government offices, and private and nongovernmental organizations to suspend face-to-face meetings in their workplaces.

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For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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