Iligan City placed under MECQ due to limited hospital capacity

Iligan City has been placed under the more restrictive modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) due to the limited hospital capacity in the area, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque explained that Iligan does not have many cases of infections but its critical care capacity is not enough.

Iligan City is the only area in the country placed under MECQ that bans public transportation and limits mass gatherings until the end of September. The rest of the country is largely under the more relaxed community quarantine levels. 

"Hindi naman po ganoon kataas ang kaso sa Iligan. Ang problema lang po sa Iligan, wala pong hospital doon ‘no, kaya kinakailangan ipadala pa sa Cagayan de Oro (The cases in Iligan are not too high. The problem with Iligan is there are not many hospitals there so patients must still be brought to Cagayan de Oro)," he said during a Palace press briefing. 

"Kumbaga iyong health utilization capacity nila ay mababa ‘no, so iyon po iyong dahilan kung bakit sila naging MECQ (The health utilization capacity is low so that's the reason why they are under MECQ)," he said. 

But in Resolution No. 67 issued on August 31, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) said the MECQ status of Iligan City was "due to the increasing average daily growth rate of cases.” The MECQ in Iligan City will be implemented "without prejudice to the declaration of localized Enhanced Community Quarantine in critical areas," the IATF added.

As of August 31, the health department has recorded 268 cases of coronavirus in Iligan City. The data includes 149 active cases, 113 recoveries and six deaths.

As the new quarantine levels remain in effect until the end of the month, the task force has also directed local government units to strictly implement minimum public health standards, especially their uniform implementation in high-risk areas such as healthcare settings, wet markets, supermarkets, government offices, and workplaces, among others.

They must also implement localized community quarantine and ensure the availability of quarantine facilities in priority or critical areas with community transmission.

All returning citizens, suspect, and probable cases must also be subjected to immediate facility-based quarantine or isolation.

Local government units have also been directed to increase local health system capacity, especially for community isolation and critical care, as well as to submit complete and accurate data through COVID-Kaya and Department of Health’s DataCollect.