DOH-6 RETRACTS: Not all residents of two Iloilo towns and Bacolod are PUMs

DOH-6 Regional Director Marlyn Convocar

By Jennifer P. Rendon and Emme Rose Santiagudo

The Department of Health-Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD)-6 retracted its earlier pronouncement declaring all residents of Guimbal, Iloilo as persons under monitoring (PUMs) for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In an advisory issued evening of April 1, 2020, Dr. Marlyn Convocar, DOH-CHD6 regional director, said that since Guimbal is under enhanced community quarantine, all persons are on strict monitoring, not PUMs as earlier declared.

The same principle is also applicable to Lambunao (two cases) and Bacolod City (six cases).

“This is to clarify that the municipality of Lambunao has two positive cases of COVID-19 as of April 1, 2020. Since these two confirmed cases are in one barangay, all residents in the said barangay will be on strict home quarantine not all are PUMs,” Convocar said in the statement.

Meanwhile, two barangays in the town of Guimbal where the three confirmed cases are located will undergo strengthened home quarantine.

On the other hand, all barangays with confirmed cases in Bacolod City are advised to do the same.

“All persons residing in the barangays with positive cases are on strict home quarantine (not all are PUMs),” the health department added.

PUMs are individuals who travelled to places with cases of COVID-19 or were exposed to a positive case and are asymptomatic.

It remains unclear if DOH-CHD-6 issued the clarification due to mounting calls for the health department to explain why the town’s 36,000 residents would be considered as PUMs.

Instead, the agency pushed for strengthened quarantine in the two barangays in the town proper where confirmed COVID-19 cases reside.

Also, heightened monitoring and social distancing shall be observed in other barangays.

DOH-CHD6 made the “PUM declaration” Tuesday after it noted localized transmission of the dreaded viral disease in Guimbal.

Local transmission indicates that the source of infection is within the reporting location, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Based on the latest bulletin issued by DOH-CHD 6, seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 have already been recorded in Iloilo province with two deaths.

The first case in Iloilo province and the second in Western Visayas is a 65-year-old male from Guimbal. He is believed to have infected a 51-year-old woman who happened to be their house helper.

The man may have been infected after exposure to his three sisters and a nephew who travelled to Japan in February.

Previously, the health department announced that all the almost 34,000 residents in the town of Guimbal will be considered as PUMs following the confirmation of local transmission.

The declaration prompted Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas to prohibit the entry of Guimbal residents to Iloilo City.



The health department advised areas with local transmission to strengthen the implementation of community quarantine by instituting the following measures based on Department Memorandum 2020-0122 dated March 14, 2020:

*Restriction of non-essential entry under general community quarantine particularly of 60 years old and above, immune compromised, pregnant women, and with pre-existing medical conditions.

*Restriction of entry and movement under enhanced community quarantine wherein uniformed personnel are mandated to strictly enforce the prevention of entry into the contained area.

*All persons inside the contained area are required to observe strict home quarantine wherein they are not allowed  to exit the premises of their home unless to acquire basic necessities such as food or to seek medical consultation.

*All forms of mass transportation shall cease to operate inside the quarantine area

Restriction of exit under enhanced community quarantine.

*All persons are restricted from exiting the contained area, except those who reside outside the area of enhanced community  quarantine who are stranded in transit.

*All persons entering the contained community must be checed for signs and symptoms at entry and exit checkpoints.



While they welcome the DOH retraction, Vice Mayor Jennifer Garin-Colada said the damage has been done.

“Our residents have been through a lot of discrimination,” she said.

Colada pointed to the staff of her sister, AAMBIS-OWA partylist Representative Sharon Garin, who was allegedly turned down by two hospitals after learning that she’s from Guimbal.

In a Facebook post, Garin said, “My staff, a Guimbalanon, has to have C-section. Went to her hospital, Doctor’s Hospital, rejected. Went to Don Benito, rejected. My staff will be alright. We will do our utmost to sort it out. But this should not happen.”

Colada said there are Guimbalanons who claimed they were barred from getting inside a store once known that they are from Guimbal.

On Wednesday, Mayor Jerry Treñas also declared that people from the town of Guimbal, Iloilo will be barred from entering Iloilo City following the declaration of the health department that all residents of the town are considered as PUMs.

But with the DOH advisory, “subong na-klaruhan na. I already talked to Mayor Treñas and sent him the copy of the DOH advisory.”

Meanwhile, Colada did not categorically answer if the DOH clarification came after they were pressed to issue an official statement behind the declaration.

“We, in the local government, are just following based on official orders. So, we were wondering on the basis and guidelines for the declaration,” she said.

Colada said they checked on previous memoranda and orders but nowhere had they found about placing an entire town in the PUM list.

Damo na gid na-apektuhan. She (Convocar) causes confusion sa mga taga-Guimbal,” she said.

Still, Colada said that the clarification is a good development for the people of Guimbal.