Prov’l Task Force denies Tabuk City’s request for ECQ, supports localized ECQ in barangays

Surviving old village-- A breathtaking view of Bugnay Barangay in Tinglayan Kalinga along the Bontoc-Tabuk Road. Unfortunately, with the whole world still grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, tourists can not travel to enjoy beautiful sights the Cordillera can offer. ** Photo by Joel Belinan

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – The Provincial Inter-agency Task Force (PIATF) on COVID-19 overwhelmingly voted against the request of Tabuk City to be placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in order to put tighter restrictions on the movement of people after six individuals tested positive for COVID-19 from June 10 to June 14.
Governor Ferdinand Tubban in the PIATF emergency meeting on Tuesday, June 16, said the request of the City IATF did not consider the impact of a two-week ECQ on the local economy and was only focused on the health aspect of the situation.
“It’s more on health. They did not consider all sectors. How about the economic sector? Since the four new COVID-19 cases have already tested negative, perhaps the CIATF should reconsider their request for ECQ,” the governor said.
“It will not only be Tabuk nga matamaan na daytuy [ECQ] but it will be the whole Kalinga ta nu inya ti inkwa da ti Tabuk, kasla idi ECQ tayo, dagiti different municipalities ket agala dan tu manen iti passes so malimitaran manen ti [entry] da to the city,” Tubban said.
Meanwhile, Congressman Allen Jesse Mangaoang sees no “valid reason” for the imposition of ECQ, saying the outbreak of the virus has already been contained by the city and the province’s health officials.
“I’m sorry but I will not [vote for ECQ], not at the moment, because I don’t see any valid reason until such time that maybe if we could only see a surge of increase of COVID-19 positives which awan met ti makita tayo,” the lawmaker said.
“We are talking of six patients here and [patients K-04] to K-06 ket nagbalin dan nga negative. [Patient K-01 and patient K-02] are now at the [Kalinga Provincial Hospital] and they are properly attended to,” he said.
As of June 16, all six COVID-19 positive cases in Tabuk have already tested negative for the virus in their repeat tests.
While the PIATF denied the imposition of ECQ in the whole of Tabuk, it supported the implementation of a localized ECQ in the barangays where the CHO is doing contact tracing on the six COVID-19 patients.
In light of this, Mayor Darwin Estrañero later announced that the barangays that were earlier placed on temporary lockdown under Executive Order No. 48 will be placed under ECQ. These are barangays Bulanao Norte, Bulanao Centro, Laya West, Lacnog, Ipil, Tuga, and Nambaran.
For contact tracing
The Kalinga Medical Society (KMS) whose recommendation is the basis of the CIATF’s request for ECQ reasoned that the measure is necessary to prevent the further transmission of the virus and facilitate contact tracing.
“In our thinking, there is already a local transmission. One positive case can infect another two so the infection can be exponential. It was the consensus of the doctors that the movement of people will enhance transmission,” Dr. Thelma Gaerlan of the KMS said.
The City Health Office also said the two-week ECQ would give time to frontliners to regroup as majority of them are now under quarantine after being exposed to the COVID-19 patients, two of whom are frontliners themselves.
“I think it is important that we are given at least two weeks to finish all the contact tracing and wait for the results of their swab tests. This will also be the time for all the frontliners to be swabbed, released from quarantine since most of our frontliners are in quarantine,” Joy Alunday of the CHO said.
Imported COVID-19 cases
Citing the four imported COVID-19 cases, Dr. Gaerlan said that entry of returning residents to the city should be limited at least until the frontliners have completed their prescribed quarantine period. It would also help free up space at the city’s isolation facilities which are now nearing capacity with the continuous arrival of locally stranded individuals (LSIs).
Congressman Mangaoang agreed with this, saying there should be strict implementation of the protocol for LSIs to undergo rapid testing before being allowed to travel back home.
“I vote no to the ECQ, but I agree with the suggestion of Dr. Gaerlan that the [entry] of LSI nga on a staggered basis,” he said.
Last week, Tabuk City implemented a policy allowing entry to returning residents on Wednesdays only.** Iryll Sicnao, Tabuk City Information Office

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