VIGAN CITY — A statement posted on Facebook by Governor Ryan Luis Singson on the evening of June 9 confirmed unverified reports that circulated earlier that day about the presence in this city of a returning overseas Filipino (ROF) worker who tested positive for COVID-19.
The patient, now referred to as IS-C3, is a 30-year-old pregnant female ROF residing in Brgy. Pantay Daya, Vigan City. She is the first reported positive case in the Heritage City.
According to reports, the patient arrived from Taiwan on April 15. As per the directives by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases regarding returning overseas Filipino workers, she was sent into quarantine in a hotel in Pasay City.
The quarantine period is supposed to last only 14 days, but due to delays in conducting screening tests, the patient ended up staying in the quarantine facility for more than a month.
She was tested for COVID-19 using a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test only on May 9 where she came out negative.
On May 25 when she was transported to Ilocos Sur through the efforts of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of Transportation.
Since she was in quarantine for over a month in Pasay City and came out negative in her PCR test, the patient was allowed entry to the province on May 26.
ROFs who have undergone 14-day quarantine in the National Capital Region should not be subjected to another quarantine in the province according to a Department of the Interior and Local Government’s advisory, therefore the patient was required to undergo a seven-day home quarantine upon arrival in the province.
After her home quarantine was over, the patient was free to move around the city. On June 3, she went to Cebuana Lhuillier Pawnshop, 7/11 Convenience Store in Land-mark Building, Vera Cruz Maternal and Women’s Health and Ultrasound Clinic for her pre-natal check-up, Linda’s Department Store and then to JTC Supermarket. She rode a tricycle going home.
On June 7, she experienced slight fever and sore throat. She went to St. James Hospital and Ilocos Sur Provincial Hospital-Gabriela Silang, then went home thereafter. She also reported her symptoms to the barangay health emergency response team (BHERT) who in turn reported the case to the City Health Office.
On June 8, she went to Caltex Bantay and took a taxi to the Ilocos Sur District Hospital in Magsingal town where she was admitted and consequently swabbed. The swab test turned positive for the coronavirus causing COVID-19.
“Contact tracing shall be conducted within the whole of Metro Vigan, the municipalities of Sinait, Cabugao, Narvacan, Santiago, Sta. Cruz and Tagudin,” Singson said.
“Our Provincial Health Officers shall be coordinating with OWWA to identify the other contacts who rode the same bus with her from NCR,” he added.
He again reminded his constituents to stay home and only venture out if it is extremely necessary.
Meanwhile, Vigan City Mayor Juan Carlo Medina issued an Executive Order on June 10 designating the residence of the patient and its immediate vicinity as “containment zones” under Extreme Enhanced Community Quarantine. Surrounding areas are designated as “buffer zones” or under Enhanced Community Quarantine.
Residents within the containment zones are prohibited from leaving the area, and no one is allowed to enter. Their essential needs are provided for by the city government, according to the EO. Their health status are also being monitored by the city health officers.
While people in the buffer zones are under mandatory stay-at-home orders, and may not venture out without travel passes for work or essential needs. The city is providing shuttle service going to the market and banks, while the BHERT officials are tasked with monitoring the health status of affected individuals.
Barangay officials were also ordered to perform immediate disinfection of all concerned houses.
The Vigan City Contact Tracing Team has conducted tracing of the establishments and of the people the patient may have encountered. The
contacts have been informed and are being observed for symptoms, while establishments have performed disinfection procedures, the mayor said.
The mayor assured that the city government of Vigan is doing all efforts to contain and manage the situation to ensure the health and safety of everyone. (with reports from PIA Ilocos Sur) ●