7 towns in Aklan remain untouched by COVID-19

Seven towns in the province of Aklan have so far not registered cases of coronavirus since the start of pandemic said the Provincial Health Office (PHO-Aklan). These COVID-19-free towns are Buruanga, Batan, Tangalan, Nabas, Balete, New Washington and Madalag.

Data from Aklan Provincial Epidemiology Surveillance and Response Unit as of Friday, August 14 showed Kalibo with the most number of SARS-CoV-2 infections with 7, Numancia has 4 cases, Malinao, Banga and Libacao with 3 each. Ibajay with two cases, and Altavas, Lezo, Makato and Malay have one each.

To date, the province has the lowest number of COVID-19 cases in Western Visayas with 26, while 13 have already recovered. Aklan's lone recorded fatality was from Numancia, Aklan.

PHO-Aklan also reported 5,708 overseas Filipino workers and locally stranded individuals (LSIs) have returned home to the province. From that figure, 5,268 or 92% were cleared of the coronavirus and have completed the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The capital town of Kalibo had the most number of LSIs and returning OFs with 687 followed by Ibajay with 592 and New Washington with 581. Lezo has the lowest number of LSIs /ROFs with 94.

A total of 1,210 persons were also tested using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or swab test. A total of 94 percent or 1,137 were negative for SARS-CoV-2, while 51 test results are still pending with the regional molecular laboratories.

The Department of Health Western Visayas Center for Health Development has recorded 2,586 confirmed cases with 1,183 patients recovered from the virus. Death toll in the region reached 34.

A total of 1,369 active cases have been reported in 6 provinces and two highly urbanized cities as of August 14, while 99 coronavirus disease patients are still confined in health facilities.

Workers in Boracay in dire straits

Meanwhile, "We Are Boracay," a group of marginalized workers in Boracay Island, appealed for help in light of coronavirus pandemic. They are calling for support and donations for the families and children of displaced workers who were left reeling from the impact of pandemic.

Rosario Moleta of "We Are Boracay" said the workers are having a hard time to stay positive since the community quarantine was introduced.

A majority of establishments in the island were forced to temporarily shut down or adopt the flexible work arrangement while livelihood opportunities of workers were also hit hard by the pandemic and travel restrictions of tourists.

Many business owners are struggling with their rentals and utilities payments, and zero bookings as international flights to Aklan are also banned.

It hasn't been easy for workers who were already trying to make ends meet before the pandemic, especially those marginalized workers in Boracay Island. They are searching for other jobs, do have money or savings and were forced to rely for government aid to feed their families.

"Hindi pa kami lubusang nakabangon sa trahedya ng kahirapan bunga ng pagsasara ng isla noong mga nagdaang taon at ngayon. Dahil sa kapabayaan ng gobyerno na magbigay ng ayuda sa mamamayan sa itong pandemya, mas lalong lumala ang aming buhay," Moleta said.

(We have not fully recovered from the tragedy caused by the closure of the island last year, and now we are in this situation. Because government has completed abandoned helping the people suffering due to the pandemic, our life is getting more miserable.)

Boracay Island reopened for tourists of Western Visayas on June 16 to jump start the local economy. Despite the island's allowing visitors, only 1,244 travelers in the region entered the prime tourist site from June 16 to August 9.

With reduced incomes and loss of work, the displaced workers of ‘We Are Boracay’ are seeking for financial aid to support the home-schooling of their children.

Moleta said workers also faced unprecedented stress, economic pressures and the long-term effects of pandemic are making the people desperate. – Rappler.com