ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 12 March) – Mindanao’s first confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) case, identified by the Department of Health as the Philippines’ Patient No. 40 (PH40), was working in San Juan in Metro Manila and went home to Lanao del Sur before he was admitted to a private hospital here and referred to a government hospital in Cagayan de Oro City on March 8.
According to one of the doctors who attended to the patient at the Adventist Medical Center (AMC) here, the 54-year-old male was brought by relatives from Lanao del Sur to Iligan City to seek medical treatment.
During a press conference in Cagayan de Oro this morning, which was aired live over Facebook by ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol Mindanao, DOH-X Regional Director Adriano P. Suba-an also said the patient was originally from Lanao del Sur but transferred to Pasig City in Metro Manila during the Marawi Siege in 2017 for livelihood.
“Health personnel at the AMC who came in close contact with the patient are now in quarantine,” including staff assigned at the emergency room, and those assigned to the patient’s private room, the X-ray room and the 2D echo room, according to the attending doctor in Iligan.
The patient’s relatives who took care of him are also now considered “persons under monitoring,” said the doctor.
The patient was recommended to be transferred to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center in Cagayan de Oro City, 86 kilometers away, after the medical staff suspected him of COVID-19.
The DOH announced Wednesday that 16 new cases more were recorded that day, increasing total cases in the country to 49. The patient admitted in Iligan, then Cagayan de Oro, was the 40th case.
During the press conference in Cagayan de Oro, Suba-an noted that the patient had no history of travel abroad.
Suba-an said the patient must have been infected in Pasig or anywhere in Metro Manila, then decided to come home to be with his family to help him in seeking medical help.
He said the patient came in through the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental, which serves the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan and neighboring areas, then admitted at the hospital in Iligan.
Dr. Jose Chan, chief of hospital of the NMMC, said that the patient is still in critical condition but improving. He explained that COVID-19 pneumonia takes a long while to treat, from three to six weeks. “He’s already on his first week here with us, so [we have] many more weeks to go,” he told reporters.
“The patient is being managed by our infectious disease specialists according to the latest [World Health Organization] guidelines,” Suba-an assured.
Chan said two family members watching over the patient at the NMMC have so far displayed no COVID-19 symptoms, but he did not discount the possibility that they may be infected, too. Thus, the family members, he noted, are not being allowed to get out of the patient’s room.
Meanwhile, a joint statement by the city government of Iligan and the Iligan Medical Society said they are “now currently coordinating with respective authorities to do contact tracing. We have also advised the exposed health-care workers to do home quarantine.”
“We are now strengthening hospital policies, preventive measures, and set up triage areas and possible fever clinics,” the joint statement published on the city government’s Facebook page Thursday.
The statement stressed: “We strongly advise the public to stay calm and be informed. Listen only to credible sources (Department of Health, City Health Office, World Health Organization, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Stop the rampant problem of fake news. The virus is a big concern, but MISINFORMATION is the bigger problem.”
The Iligan LGU’s Facebook page also announced that Mayor Celso G. Regencia has declared an “indefinite suspension of classes to all levels both private and public schools” starting Friday, March 13.
In Lanao del Sur, Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. likewise issued an order Thursday that all classes in public and private schools “are suspended until further notice.”
Jennie Tamano, Provincial Information Office, said the Provincial Task Force on COVID-19 will met Monday, March 16, to determine if the suspension of classes will be extended.
The governor said all scheduled and proposed public events and gatherings that require mass participation are postponed until further notice.
Furthermore, Adiong ordered that government work—except for the Bureau of Fire Protection and the security sector, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices, health offices and medical first responders, and members of the Inter-Agency Task Force Against COVID-19—are suspended on March 12 and 13 “to allow all LGUs and government agencies to conduct disinfection measure in all government facilities.”
Work will resume on Monday, May 16, he added.
The provincial government acquired four thermal guns and ordered 25 more for all departments as part of the COVID-19 prevention protocol in the provincial capitol.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Ports Authority in Iligan has established five thermal scanners in strategic areas within the port area.
Acting Port Manager and Port Police Commander Menardo Sosobrado, said all outgoing and incoming passengers should pass through the thermal scanners to check their body temperature. Alcohol and sanitizers are also made available. Masks are also handed out to passengers but he supply is limited, he said.
Sosobrado said the PPA has its own isolation building where persons under monitoring would be referred to the City Health Office for proper medical response. The PPA facility will be sanitized and disinfect once all passengers are out of the arrival and departure areas, he said.
In Lanao del Norte, Governor Imelda Quibranza Dimaporo said the province is closely monitoring all barangays through DOH, Provincial Health Office, Municipal Health Offices, Doctors to the Barrios, private hospitals and medical team.
Dimaporo urged her constituents to be more vigilant and adopt proper hygiene to prevent infections.
She said Kapatagan Provincial Hospital has been identified as the isolation facility. in case of emergency. (Bobby Timonera with reports from Froilan Gallardo and Richel V. Umel / MindaNews)