For almost a week until Saturday, the Bicol Regional Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory (BRDRL) has yet to release the results of more than 200 swab specimens sent by local health officials for processing, the Tribune learned.
According to Dr. Franchette Amabella Panti, Provincial Health Officer I and spokesperson of the COVID-19 task force, 207 samples are now at the Bicol coronavirus testing center in Albay, including a specimen taken from a Virac public school teacher who died at a local hospital the other week from COVID-like symptoms of fever and diarrhea.
In an interview last Friday, she informed that the BRDRL put on hold the processing of many specimens as it has been overwhelmed by the huge number of samples submitted by health offices from the six provinces as a result of the Department of Health’s surveillance targeted testing.
The testing program covers health frontliners, particularly those handling quarantine and isolation facilities, ambulance drivers and local health personnel who are tasked with taking the swabs from suspect cases. The swabs are taken about seven days after the frontliner’s exposure, Dr. Panti said.
Previously, only those frequently exposed to confirmed COVID cases and suspect cases were tested every two weeks to ensure that they are now carrying the virus.
As of Jan. 6, Catanduanes has recorded 130 confirmed coronavirus cases, including one active case in Bato, as well as 127 recoveries and two deaths. The capital town of Virac accounts for 61 percent with a total of 80 cases, including the two fatalities.
Most of the confirmed COVID cases, arriving Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) and Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) have been quarantined either at barangay halls and day care centers or at their own homes, after super typhoon Rolly wrecked Ligtas COVID-19 facilities operated by local government units.
In Panganiban town, Mayor Cesar Robles has informed barangay captains that his office will no longer issue the Certificate of Acceptance to LSIs and ROFs without the village chief’s valid certification that there is a quarantine facility available in the barangay.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Health Office called on the public to observe appropriate measures against dengue-carrying mosquitoes due to the onset of heavy rains on an almost daily basis.
It asked residents to practice the 4S strategy to avoid dengue: “Search and destroy” mosquito breeding places; “Self-protection measures” to prevent being bitten; “Seek early consultation” for fever as early as one day; and, “Say yes to fogging” as a last resort when there is an impending outbreak.
Last week, four dengue cases were reportedly detected in Virac poblacion, but the PHO said the cases are sporadic and not clustered.