Philippines converts island into quarantine center for returning migrants 

Sibakel Island in Mindanao to become quarantine zone for returning Filipinos from Malaysia. (Photo courtesy Mindanao Western Command)
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Updated 24 March 2020

Philippines converts island into quarantine center for returning migrants 

  • Following the developments, the military proposed using Sibakel island as a quarantine area for the remaining 131 Filipinos who were stranded on the two vessels

MANILA: The Philippine military is in the process of converting an island in the Basilan province into a quarantine zone to temporarily house Filipinos returning from Malaysia due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Officials said on Monday that 70 percent of the work was complete.
Sibakel Island, an uninhabited area under the jurisdiction of the Lantawan municipality in the southern Philippine province of Basilan, is currently home for more than 100 Filipinos who returned from Sabah, Malaysia recently but were refused entry by local government units.
“They were part of the 413 Filipinos who arrived from Sabah on board two private vessels on March 17. However, other local government units denied them entry for fear that they might be infected by the coronavirus disease,” Major Arvin John Encinas, spokesperson for Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), told Arab News.
He added that a majority were not allowed entry in Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, and initially even in Basilan.
“Local officials in Basilan later agreed to allow 282 of the returnees to disembark since they are residents of the province,” Encinas said.
Following the developments, the military proposed using Sibakel island as a quarantine area for the remaining 131 Filipinos who were stranded on the two vessels.
“Under the presidential proclamation, we have to accept them, but they have to undergo quarantine procedures,” Westmincom Chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said. “We took the initiative to look for an island for quarantine purposes.”
To move ahead with the process, all 131 Filipinos were ferried to the island on March 20 where they will observe a 14-day quarantine before being allowed to return to their families.
The military, along with representatives from various government agencies, conducted an ocular inspection of the island on March 19 before declaring it appropriate for use as a quarantine area.

FASTFACT

Over 100 Filipinos will observe 14-day quarantine before returning home.

The entire process, Encinas said, involved setting up tents and other facilities for returnees, security personnel, and representatives from government agencies looking after those under quarantine. 
Before that, all 131 nationals were subjected to medical screening procedures on the island with officials saying that there were no infected patients on the island and that the returnees were being moved there as part of a mandatory quarantine measure.
“COVID-19 is an illness that starts with ‘I’. We have to change this ‘I’ to ‘We.’ We must continue to work together towards wellness in order to defeat this illness,” Sobejana said.
Once on the island, the returnees were provided with food packs, sleeping bags, hygiene kits, drinking water, movable tents and other essential commodities.
Sobejana said they are anticipating that the current number of returning Filipinos from Sabah and other parts of Malaysia will increase.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 82 new cases, bringing the total number of infected people to 462.  
 The DOH also reported eight additional deaths, increasing the number of fatalities from 25 to 33, with the department saying that 18 patients had recovered from the disease.
Earlier on Sunday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the number of coronavirus cases could rise further due to improved testing facilities in the laboratories.
The entire island of Luzon is currently under lockdown to avoid the spread of the virus, with other areas in Visayas and Mindanao also imposing community quarantine measures to limit the disease.


Bernie Sanders drops 2020 bid, leaving Biden as likely nominee

Updated 22 min 20 sec ago

Bernie Sanders drops 2020 bid, leaving Biden as likely nominee

  • The Vermont senator’s announcement makes Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee to challenge President Donald Trump in November
  • Sanders plans to talk to his supporters later Wednesday

WASHINGTON: Sen. Bernie Sanders, who saw his once strong lead in the Democratic primary evaporate as the party’s establishment lined swiftly up behind rival Joe Biden, ended his presidential bid on Wednesday, an acknowledgment that the former vice president is too far ahead for him to have any reasonable hope of catching up.
The Vermont senator’s announcement makes Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee to challenge President Donald Trump in November.
Sanders plans to talk to his supporters later Wednesday.
Sanders initially exceeded sky-high expectations about his ability to recreate the magic of his 2016 presidential bid, and even overcame a heart attack last October on the campaign trail. But he found himself unable to convert unwavering support from progressives into a viable path to the nomination amid “electability” fears fueled by questions about whether his democratic socialist ideology would be palatable to general election voters.
The 78-year-old senator began his latest White House bid facing questions about whether he could win back the supporters who chose him four years ago as an insurgent alternative to the party establishment’s choice, Hillary Clinton. Despite winning 22 states in 2016, there were no guarantees he’d be a major presidential contender this cycle, especially as the race’s oldest candidate.
Sanders, though, used strong polling and solid fundraising — collected almost entirely from small donations made online — to more than quiet early doubters. Like the first time, he attracted widespread support from young voters and was able to make new inroads within the Hispanic community, even as his appeal with African Americans remained small.
Sanders amassed the most votes in Iowa and New Hampshire, which opened primary voting, and cruised to an easy victory in Nevada — seemingly leaving him well positioned to sprint to the Democratic nomination while a deeply crowded and divided field of alternatives sunk around him.
But a crucial endorsement of Biden by influential South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, and a subsequent, larger-than-expected victory in South Carolina, propelled the former vice president into Super Tuesday, when he won 10 of 14 states.
In a matter of days, his top former Democratic rivals lined up and announced their endorsement of Biden. The former vice president’s campaign had appeared on the brink of collapse after New Hampshire but found new life as the rest of the party’s more moderate establishment coalesced around him as an alternative to Sanders.
Things only got worse the following week when Sanders lost Michigan, where he had campaigned hard and upset Clinton in 2016. He was also beaten in Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho the same night and the results were so decisive that Sanders headed to Vermont without speaking to the media.
Sanders had scheduled a rally in Ohio but canceled it amid fears about the spread of coronavirus — and the outbreak kept him home as his campaign appeared unsure of its next move. The senator addressed reporters the following day, but also sounded like a candidate who already knew he’d been beaten.
“While our campaign has won the ideological debate, we are losing the debate over electability,” Sanders said then.