GenSan, Sarangani warns against Indonesia’s Delta variant
GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / July 20) – National and local authorities have a compelling reason to apprehend the wave of the COVID-19 Delta variant in Indonesia that could impact communities in the southern part of Mindanao.
Amid this development, Secretary Carlito Galvez announced that the national government would send “thousands more doses” of the Janssen single-dose jab to this town and the island province of Tawi-Tawi, where there is a widely cross-border connection. not controlled between Indonesia. and Malaysia.
The move is aimed at avoiding making GenSan and Tawi-Tawi “growth areas” of the Delta variant in the country, said Galvez, the chief responsible for implementing the country’s COVID-19 response.
The Ministry of Health of Region 12 announced the arrival on Monday of 148,700 doses of the Janssen vaccine intended for geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) in the Soccsksargen region.
The Food and Drug Administration has said that Jansenn, produced by the U.S. company Johnson and Johnson, is a viral vector vaccine that only requires a single dose and would not need a cold store.
There was no mention of how many vials of the vaccine, supposedly intended for the elderly and those with co-morbidities, will go to that town and Sarangani.
Meanwhile, health and police personnel in that town have been ordered to prevent fishermen and travelers from entering through the “back door” of one of the neighboring Indonesian islands.
Mayor Ronnel Rivera said there were also returning fishing boats that have ventured into international waters and that his crew members, as well as other travelers, must go through testing and testing procedures. quarantine required.
“We need to implement strict protocols to protect our city from the Delta variant,” Rivera said.
In neighboring Sarangani province, police and local government officials gathered to further strengthen measures to strictly enforce travel restrictions, specifically prohibiting Indonesian people from entering the country from July 16 to July 31.
The restriction covers travelers from Indonesia or those who have traveled there 14 days prior to their intended arrival in the Philippines.
Police Lt. Col. Fernando Cunanan Jr., commander of Regional Maritime Unit (RMU) 12, said he has stepped up patrols along the coast and coastline of Sarangani province, particularly in the town of Glan , which is adjacent to the Sarangani and Balut Islands.
These islands, part of Davao Occidental, are close to the Indonesian border. Many residents of these islands usually travel to the nearby town of Glan and this town for their business, household, food, medical and other needs.
Cunanan said they were working according to guidelines established in a meeting with the mayor of Glan, Vivein Yap, and the 16 village chiefs of Glan, as well as officials from the Philippine Navy, the Philippine Coast Guard, Maritime Police, Glan PNP and the Immigration Bureau and discussed a “Maritime Border Patrol Policy on COVID-19.”
The policy is to ensure that no Indonesian traveler can enter the mainland undetected, Cunanan said. Indonesia and the Philippines share a porous maritime border.
It only takes an hour or two, depending on the type of boat, to get from the nearest island in the Indonesian archipelago to Balut Island at the southern tip of Mindanao, where there is a huge concentration. people of Indonesian origin.
With the proximity, residents of Balut and Sarangani Islands typically travel to neighboring islands of Indonesia to fish or visit relatives and, similarly, many Filipinos living in the northern islands of the Indonesian archipelago. come to Mindanao to visit relatives.
A 2016 study by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees found that there are 8,745 people of Indonesian descent living in Balut and Sarangani Islands.
The Indonesian government had acknowledged that 2,425 residents of the island were confirmed to be “pure” Indonesians and that the rest were mixed Indonesian-Filipino. Of these, 300 received Indonesian passports from Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi during his visit to Davao City in February 2018.
Passports have allowed some residents of Balut Island, who are commonly referred to as Sangir, to travel freely anywhere in Indonesia and also on mainland Mindanao.
Indonesians first settled on Balut Island in the early 1950s, believing the island to be part of Indonesia. (Rommel G. Rebollido / MindaNews)