Camiguin governor orders increase in RT-PCR test, contact tracing

By : Bobby Lagsa Mindanao Today/10:07:40pm 07/22/2021


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(Note: This news article was published in the print edition of Mindanao Today on July 12, 2021)


CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – For more than a year after the coronavirus disease 2019 Covid-19 pandemic started, Camiguin has managed to keep their cases to single digit as the island-province tightened its border control to keep the virus out. Not anymore.

Since the start of July this year, the island saw 144 new cases of Covid-19 cases, a surge that is not seen in the island.

Stringent monitoring at the Balingoan port in Misamis Oriental means that residents and non-residents are being screened before entering the island is in place.

Camiguin, the second smallest province in the Philippines with 92,808 residents, has 364 Covid-19 cases with five confirmed deaths since the outbreak started in February 2020.

Almost half of these cases were in the last seven days, and health officials from the Department of Health-10 are looking at the cause of this surge.

In a radio interview last week, Camiguin Gov. Jurdin Jesus Romualdo said that the provincial government amplified its contact tracing teams to isolate those who show symptoms of Covid-19.

“First, we notice that there were two consecutive Covid-19 deaths and so we did an anti-gen test for fish vendors,” Romualdo said.

Romualdo also added that they did a seroprevalence RT-PCR test in the public market of Mambajao and got two positive results.

The governor suspected that these cases may have been caused by fishermen who sail out to sea and traded with other fishermen from other places there.

Romualdo added that because for so long, they have very low cases, people got complacent.

“They thought that there is no more Covid. People don’t wear masks, no face shield, all of these factors as we are more relaxed here in Camiguin compared to the rest of the country,” he said.

“We doing now mass testing with RT-PCR,” Romualdo said.

Dr. Jose Llacuna Jr., DOH-10 director, said that they are looking at local transmission as the cause of the spread of the virus.

“In Camiguin we saw the Covid ward beds in the hospital have increased, in fact, they are increasing further the beds for their cases,” Llacuna said.

He warned that Covid positive cases with mild to moderate symptoms must be hospitalized.

“Those who are asymptomatic must be guarded because they might develop into mild or severe,” the health official said.

Llacuna said that the DOH has sent viral transport medium for the swab test, “for testing to Camiguin to amplify its testing capacity, and immediately send this specimen to Cagayan de Oro for the testing.”

He said that the RT-PCR testing laboratory in Camiguin is just starting its development.

“So, imagine the delay of the test, they have to send it here and the result to send back there,” Llacuna said.

“I have it a priority in the regional laboratory for Covid the cases of Camiguin. We have to act on this,” he added.


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