Health authorities have placed under lockdown a coastal barangay in Virac after a one-year old boy who recently traveled with his family from Quezon City tested positive for Covid-19.
The child, his parents and sibling have been under 14-day quarantine at the barangay day care facility in Marilima since their arrival on June 26, 2020. The boy is now Bicol’s #151 and Catanduanes’ 5th confirmed Covid-19 case.
According to Dr. Franchette Amabella Panti, a swab specimen will be taken from the mother while contact tracing is now being done to identify close contacts beginning from their arrival in the island.
Informed sources say that the family of four boarded a Philippine National Railways (PNR) train on June 25 under the Balik Probinsiya program of the national government.
Also on the train were six former Metro Manila residents who were going home to their barangay in the Virac poblacion.
They arrived in Ligao City near midnight of the same day and were fetched by a van hired by the Catanduanes provincial government after it was contacted by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) regional office regarding their arrival.
The 10 train passengers spend overnight at the Tabaco port and boarded the ferry on June 26 for their trip to the island.
Upon arrival, personnel of the Virac Rural Health Unit brought the family of four to the day care center of Marilima and the other six to an elementary school in their poblacion barangay.
At the barangay quarantine facility, the boy was noted to have developed colds on June 28 and an episode of diarrhea on June 30.
The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the provincial capitol later received word that of passengers on the same train, two from Camarines Sur had tested positive for the coronavirus disease.
It informed that the family were on the same coach as the positive cases but it was later verified that the Virac residents were on a different coach on the train.
The Virac RHU was immediately informed of the development, with health personnel taking a swab from the boy on July 2, as he was already showing symptoms and was prioritized for testing under Department of Health (DOH) guidelines.
Upon learning of the positive result, Mayor Sinforoso Sarmiento Jr. placed the entire barangay under 14-day lockdown at 10 P.M. of July 4. The LGU has vowed to provide food assistance to the 114 families of the village during the lockdown.
The other members of the family were scheduled to be swabbed last Sunday.
Contact tracing will include all those who were at Tabaco port from midnight of June 25 to 7 A.M. of June 26 as well as those aboard the ferry, including its crew.
The passenger manifest from the San Andres ferry indicated that there were 46 Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) on board, including the family of four.
The LSIs are broken down as follows: Virac, 7; Bato, 4; San Andres, 13; Caramoran, 10; Pandan, 10; and, San Miguel, 2.
On the ship were also 21 Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APORs), including 12 police officers and Philippine Army soldiers.
Four Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) were in the same trip: two from Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands who were returning to Virac, an OFW from Oman bound for San Andres and another OFW from Saudi Arabia going to Panganiban town.
Three other passengers had addresses indicating they were from Sorsogon.
On the Virac-bound ferry were eight (8) returning residents of Virac who are presumed to have been at Tabaco port that morning before their departure.
Incidentally, Bicol #151 and her mother arrived on the same day the provincial government announced the resumption of the Balik Happy Island Program’s scheduled bus trips for Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) and Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs).
A total of 164 passengers were listed to board seven chartered buses for the July 6, 2020 trip from Metro Manila. These were those originally scheduled to travel on June 16, 19, 23 and 27, the trips of which were suspended on June 13.
The arriving LSIs and ROFs are destined for Bagamanoc (10), Baras (2), Bato (3), Caramoran (19), Gigmoto (10), Pandan (27), Panganiban (4), San Andres (29), San Miguel (8), Viga (12), and Virac (40).
Days before their departure, the passengers were advised to secure complete documents, including the medical clearance certificate and travel authority from their local government unit of origin.
BHIP management issued a stern warning that those with incomplete documents will not be allowed to enter Tabaco Port. They were also advised to coordinate with their destination LGUs and the provincial government to avoid any problems.
On Sunday, two hospitals in Virac were found to have closed their doors to new admissions, with one of them allegedly forced to disinfect their facilities and quarantine health personnel after two patients tested positive via Rapid Diagnostic Test.
It has yet to be determined if swabs had been taken from the two hospital patients for confirmatory RT-PCR tests. The Provincial Health Office (PHO) has yet to provide details about the suspect cases.
Meanwhile, 10 more Catandunganons, including five (5) children, were scheduled to arrive Monday (July 6) via the “Balik Probinsiya” train from Metro Manila.