Iloilo province overburdened by deluge of repatriated LSIs

Published July 16, 2020, 11:38 AM

by Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY—The 43 local governments in Iloilo province have reportedly been overburdened by the volume of returning locally stranded individuals (LSIs), especially with the rising number of LSIs who have tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

An isolation facility for locally stranded individuals (LSIs) in Concepcion town, Iloilo province. (Courtesy of Mayor Raul Banias)

“We are presently constrained to earnestly request for further suspension of the return of our LSIs,” appealed Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr.

Defensor said the national government must give local governments in the 42 towns and component city of Passi more time before sending back additional LSIs.

“If we are to expect more LSIs, then our handling should be at a maximum level,” Defensor said in a July 15 letter addressed to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who also chairs the National Task Force Against COVID-19.

Defensor noted that approximately 70 percent of the more than 200 COVID-19 cases recorded in the province were repatriated LSIs and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).  In comparison, there were only 16 cases during strict lockdown.

Defensor echoed concerns raised by the mayors’ league, headed by Mayor Trixie Fernandez of San Enrique town.

While mayors clarified that they were willing to welcome back LSIs, they can no longer handle them as isolation facilities were already beyond capacity.

Local governments also faced problems as repatriated LSIs have infected health workers and other frontline workers with COVID-19.
For instance, Concepcion town has stopped accepting incoming LSIs as 32 frontline workers were isolated, and tested for COVID-19 after being in contact with three LSIs and an OFW infected with the coronavirus, according to Mayor Raul Banias, a medical doctor by profession.
Health workers and frontline workers in Alimodian, Bingawan and New Lucena were also reported infected with COVID-19 by LSIs they were taking care of at the isolation facilities.