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BRP Gabriela Silang carrying 71 passengers docks in Sasa

Another 71 locally stranded individuals from Manila arrived in Sasa wharf on Tuesday on board the Philippine Coast Guard’s Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Gabriela Silang.

Commander Garry Laynesa, the head of Coast Guard Station Davao, told TIMES that 16 of the passengers were from Davao city, 10 from Davao del Sur and Davao Del Norte, nine from Davao Oriental, 13 from Davao de Oro, three from Davao Occidental, three from Cotabato, five from Agusan del Sur, and one each from Lanao del Sur and Surigao del Sur.

BRP Gabriela Silang was designed after the OPV-270 MK and was turned over to the Coast Guard in December 2019. The 83-meter vessel docked at the Sasa wharf around 7:30 a.m. on June 29.

Gabriela Silang was deployed to ferry OFWs and LSIs from Manila to Visayas and Mindanao in support of the Hatid Probinsya Program by the government to decongest Metro Manila and allow individuals to go home to their families.

Last June 19, a total of 148 Locally stranded individuals were also ferried by the vessel from Manila to Davao City and General Santos City.

Laynesa also said the Coast Guard will just assist the Davao City Health Office personnel, who will handle the screening process.

“We have our own medical personnel on standby just in case they need immediate medical assistance,” he said. “Of course, we will assist in the inspection of their documents upon disembarkation and body temperature scanning.”

The local government units have been wary about the program to bring LSIs back to the provinces as they might not have the capacity to absorb the sudden surge in COVID-19 cases.

But Mayor Sara Duterte said that Davao City is not inclined to turn away the LSIs and overseas contract workers who want to return home to their families. She said that the longer people are stranded in high-risk areas, the higher their chances of getting infected.

“We will not stop the people from coming in but we have to be careful with ourselves as well,” Duterte said.
Duterte urged Davaoeños, including LSIs and OFWs, to take advantage of the free reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

Those who are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms such as cough, cold, fever, sore throat, and diarrhea may have themselves tested at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), the Tomas Claudio Health Center, and Davao One World Diagnostic Center.

They also have an option to request the City Health Office medical personnel to conduct swab testing at their homes, in case they are hesitant for fear of being exposed to the virus by going to the laboratories.

“We have received reports that some people are hesitant to go to SPMC, the health center for whatever reason – we do not know. So we will be the one to adjust to these situations,” she said on Monday during a live broadcast of the Davao City Disaster Radio.

She said this is another step toward strengthening the city’s case-finding efforts to locate more positive COVID-19 cases and contain the transmission.

“We should know where the infection is so we also know how to prevent the spread of the infection,” the mayor said.

Those who want to get tested may coordinate through the Davao City Operations Center: for calls, (0917) 508 6548 and (0919) 071 1111 and for texts, (0906) 367 4671 and (0939) 340 5675. They may also contact all City Government of Davao online platforms such as the Davao City Reports and the Davao City Disaster Radio Facebook page.

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