ZAMBOANGA CITY – The provincial government of Sulu will go on a total lockdown for 14-days starting Monday, January 4, to regulate the entry of persons, who could be bringing with them a new variant of the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which was recently detected in nearby Sabah.
Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan announced on Sunday, January 3, the lockdown restrictions and penalties that will be imposed by the provincial government to violators to the restrictions for the next 14 days.
“We might extend the prohibition to travel, and entry to the province beyond 14 days if it deems necessary for the provincial government to do so,” the governor said.
Tan noted the province did not have the necessary testing facilities, and lacked the necessary medical facilities and equipment to detect and treat COVID-19 cases, and its new variant.
“We cannot afford to allow the new variant of COVID-19 virus to enter the province, as such we have to adopt preventive and pre-emptive measures in order to protect our people in the province since Sulu. We have to be careful,” Tan emphasized
He clarified that only passenger vessels would be barred from leaving and docking at Jolo port. Cargo vessels carrying essential goods will still be allowed to use the port.
Also to be allowed to dock at the Jolo port would be vessels carrying frontliners, like police and military personnel, firemen, medical practitioners (doctors, nurse, and medical technologies) media men, provided they are able present polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests indicating that they are negative of COVID-19, the governor said.
Armed Force of the Philippines- Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) Commander Lt Gen Corleto Vinluan, Jr. said the military fully supports to the decision of the provincial government of Sulu.
“We already deployed additional troops to secure the border, and to disallow entry of passenger vessels from Sabah,” Vinluan said.
“The navy vessels of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao will conduct patrol in the maritime borders of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and the Zamboanga Peninsula to prevent the entry of (COVID-19) inflicted individuals in our area of operation,” Vinluan added.