FICELCO, SUWECO officials in quarantine after 9 test positive

Several officials of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) and its main power supplier, Sunwest Water & Electricity Co. (SUWECO), went into isolation last week after nine officials and employees tested positive for COVID-19.
The rash of coronavirus infections in the two power industry companies began a few days before Aug. 18, 2021, when a 55-year old maintenance official at SUWECO’s Solong Diesel Power Plant in San Miguel tested positive.
At the time, local health authorities had yet to determine the patient’s history of exposure.
Two days later, on Aug. 20, two skilled laborers in the same plant also tested positive for the disease, apparently close contacts of the previous case.
An official of the San Miguel municipal government claimed that at least two of them had a history of travel from Cavite and Albay.
On Aug. 24, another SUWECO employee from Calatagan Tibang, Virac returned a positive test result.
On the same day, an electrical engineer who occupies a top management position in the company, along with other officials, attended a meeting with FICELCO officials led by General Manager Raul Zafe at the BAPA Pavilion to discuss issues related to the dispatching of power plants in the light of intermittent, unscheduled brownouts in the grid caused by lack of power supply. Several of SUWECO’s diesel generating sets are said to be undergoing repair, with the power deficit reaching as much as two megawatts during peak hours.
The following day, Aug. 25, the engineer tested positive for coronavirus along with two of his managers and a technician.
Another plant manager was added to the list on Aug. 26, followed the next day, Aug. 27, by another electrical engineer who oversees the operation of one of SUWECO’s idled hydroelectric power plants, and one of FICELCO’s engineers who had attended the Aug. 24 meeting.
Last Thursday, Aug. 26, provincial health officials were alarmed upon being informed that the ranking SUWECO engineer was seen withdrawing cash from the Landbank Virac branch ATM and then boarding a white pickup truck back to a lodging house in Calatagan Proper where he had chosen to be quarantined.
The barangay captain as well as members of the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) were informed of the incident, with a tanod sent to guard the establishment.
The management of the lodging house was also instructed to inform the Rural Health Unit in case the COVID-19 positive SUWECO official broke the quarantine protocol again.
At the Marinawa headquarters of the cooperative, FICELCO employees are reportedly apprehensive of the new coronavirus case among them.
It is claimed that the management has yet to order the disinfection of the premises even as one key department has been almost shut down with all but one of their staff placed in isolation.

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