MANILA, Philippines – Philippine authorities are racing to trace attendees of a big religious gathering in Malaysia that was linked to clusters of coronavirus infection in several countries in Southeast Asia.
One of them, a Lanao Del Sur resident, tested positive for coronavirus disease and was admitted to a hospital in Cotabato City.
The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) on Tuesday, March 17, posted an “urgent plea” on Facebook calling on up to 215 Filipino attendees of the tabligh gathering at Kuala Lumpur’s Jamek Sri Petaling Mosque to report themselves and cooperate with the government.
“We are asking them to please contact immediately the local health units. Observe self- quarantine, and COOPERATE for the contact tracing. Report to the local hotlines provided by your LGUs (Local Government Units) and MOH (Ministry of Health) for any information you have regarding those who attended the said event,” the Facebook post read.
The event that gathered up to 16,000 Muslims ran from February 27 to March 1.
Cluster of cases
The call was made after Malaysia reported a cluster of cases – up to 95 confirmed patients as of latest count – linked to the same religious gathering, causing a sudden spike of cases in the country. Singapore and Brunei also reported cases linked to the same event.
In total, Malaysia already has more than 500 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday, March 17. It has banned large gatherings, travel abroad for citzens, and the entry of foreigners.
Several outbreaks in Italy were linked to gatherings of the Catholic Church. In South Korea, a cluster of cases was linked to the Shincheonji Church. The first case of local transmission in the country, a patient who did not have a history of travel, also frequented a prayer hall at the Greenhills Shopping Center. He died.
Mostly from Bangsamoro region
The attendees of the religious gathering from the Philippines were mostly from the Bangsamoro region. Cabinet Secretary Asnin Pendatun told Rappler the regional government is locating the attendees but they don’t have a complete list of the participants.
“Some of them have been located. The challenge is even the host does not have the list of attendees,” he said.
Pendatun said they’ve asked for the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Bureau of Immigration. They are also hoping for the participants to identify themselves and cooperate with government.
The Cotabato village where the patient from Lanao Del Sur resides was put under quarantine, “especially those near the slaughterhouse where his relatives stayed,” the NCMF said.
A suspected coronavirus patient who died at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi on Tuesday was not an attendee of the event.
The attendees of the tabligh gathering were asked to contact the local health units immediately, provide information regarding other attendees, observe self- quarantine, and cooperate for the contact tracing.
The hotlines were provided as follows:
Bangsamoro: 0975 765 4700 or 0951 683 9197
Lanao del Sur: 0921 3270 920 or 0977 219 6846
Cagayan De Oro City: 0975 841 3299
Caraga Region: 0948 224 1857 or 0945 359 2632
Cotabato City: (CDDRMC) 552 3174
Davao City: 0917 508 6548, 0919 0711 111, or 082 2440181
Davao Region: (DOH) 0908 1710 468 or 0956 8735 621
General Santos City: 083 5523939 or 0943 461 458
Iligan City: (CHO) 0915 602 7917 or (DRR) 0997 726 2691
Kabacan: (RHU) 0909 825 7048 or (DRRM) 0928 609 6183
Kidapawan City: 0907 366 0078
Koronadal City: 228 2293 -Mati City: (087) 388 4429
Midsayap: 0967 396 8720 or 0951 803 4045 M’lang: 0910 899 4599 or 0967 961 3747
South Cotabato: (083) 228 4571, 0919 950 0080 or 0956 944 5762
NCMF: 029526410, 09176891973
President Rodrigo Duterte has declared a state of calamity, freeing up funds for government response to the pandemic. The country reported 202 cases and 17 deaths as of Wednesday morning, March 18. At least 7 have recovered. – Rappler.com