Sipalay City Marks 19th Year Amid Covid-19 Threat

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In the past years, the City of Sipalay in Negros Occidental would mark the end of March with big events to mark its anniversary as a chartered city.

This year, the Sipalaynons led by Mayor Maria Gina Lizares instead had a subdued celebration. Local government employees and volunteers held a simple fellowship during the city’s 19th Charter Anniversary on Tuesday amid a flurry of response to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

“Since we have canceled the usual festivities for our charter anniversary, the city government has been focusing on being proactive and innovative in the operations of the inter-agency task force (IATF),” Lizares said in a statement on Thursday.

A tourism hub in Western Visayas, the southern Negros city is famous for its white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, which attract both foreign and local tourists seeking a tranquil getaway.

Amid the Covid-19 threat, Lizares canceled all big events and mass gatherings in March and April, including the 8th Burangoy Tourism Kite Festival and the 1st Philippines National Kite Festival and Congress.

The city government, with the Bureau of Immigration and other concerned agencies, assisted stranded foreign and domestic tourists in returning to their respective countries and hometowns.

On March 21, Sipalay enforced the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), which was later reinforced by Executive Order 20-20 issued Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, placing the entire province under ECQ from March 30 to April 14.

Lizares said the IATF has identified protocols for each aspect of the Covid-19 operations aside from conducting frequent updating and strategy meetings with key stakeholders.

Health checkpoints have been set up while front-liners directly dealing with patients under investigation (PUIs) and persons under monitoring (PUMs) were given flu and pneumonia shots.

“We also provide allowance and meals to front-liners on duty. We need to take good care of them as they are our first line of defense against the spread of Covid-19,” Lizares said.

In Sipalay, the City Health Office (CHO) uses hospital bands that contain the details of a PUM or a PUI for strict monitoring. Only the CHO personnel can remove the bands upon validated completion of quarantine monitoring.

The city government has also tapped sewers and tailors to make face masks and personal protective equipment for front-liners and volunteers.

On Wednesday, the City Social Welfare and Development started distributing food packs to 14,510 vulnerable households.

As of Thursday, the Sipalay CHO has recorded two PUIs and 599 PUMs under close monitoring. A total of 636 PUMs have already completed the 14-day required self-quarantine. (PNA)

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