Calapan City placed under MECQ for massive contact tracing

CALAPAN CITY, Oriental Mindoro – The entire city of Calapan is now under a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) status after the Regional Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (RIATF-EID) approved the request of Mayor Arnan C. Panaligan to place it under lockdown for 14 days.

Under RIATF MIMAROPA Resolution No. 12 series of 2020, Calapan City will be placed under MECQ for the period of August 13 to 26 due to the surge in COVID-19 infections among Philippine National Police (PNP) new recruits who manned the checkpoints and roamed the city streets as part of their field training.

On August 11, Mayor Panaligan wrote a letter addressed to Governor Humerlito A. Dolor requesting the RIATF for its concurrence to place Calapan City under MECQ due to the 42 new cases involving police trainees.

RIATF regional chairman Wilhelm M. Suyko, regional director of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), after an online consultation with RITF co-chairperson Dr. Mario S. Baquilod, Department of Health regional director and its members, approved the request of the two officials.

Gov. Dolor, in his letter, said that of the 57 active COVID-19 cases in Oriental Mindoro, only two are local cases from outside the city while 34 are locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and repatriated overseas Filipinos (ROFs).

When the results of the 42 police trainees were released on August 11, Calapan City, which had only 22 active cases on August 10, outnumbered the total cases of the rest of the province even with the LSIs and ROFs combined.

“Hence, there is an urgent need to address the situation and contain the transmission in the province’s capital to prevent a province-wide outbreak scenario,” Gov. Dolor said.

Mayor Panaligan said that during the 14-day MECQ, they will conduct massive contact tracing and isolate the people who may have been exposed to the 42 COVID-19 positive cases.

“The 42 confirmed COVID-19 cases, however, are limited to the police trainees who are already confined in their barracks since August 4 and we have already placed them on quarantine status since the time when one of their fellow trainees first tested positive for COVID-19,” Panaligan said.

Suyko said the MECQ status will be strictly implemented under the provisions of the Operational Guidelines on the Application of the Zoning Containment Strategy in the Localization of the National Action Plan Against COVID-19 Response or the IATF_EID and NTF COVID-19 Memorandum Circular No. 02.

Under an MECQ status, tourist sites, cinemas, museums, libraries, gyms, barber shops, and internet cafés will be temporarily closed and minors or persons under 21 years old and seniors are not allowed to go outside their residences except if they are buying essential items or going to their work places.