GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 25 March) – Another patient under investigation (PUI) for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) died in South Cotabato province due to acute respiratory illness, bringing to four the total deaths in Region 12.
Arjohn Gangoso, health education and promotion officer of the Department of Health (DOH)-Region 12, said Wednesday the patient expired last Monday, March 23, in an undisclosed hospital in the province while still awaiting confirmatory test result.
He said swab samples were previously taken from the 76-year-old male patient and submitted to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for laboratory confirmation.
Gangoso said the DOH-12 still has no testing kits but only kits to collect the specimens of the PUIs.
“The test result is still pending as of this time,” he said in a radio interview.
“We have coordinated with SPMC (Southern Philippines Medical Center) in Davao City for the delivery of specimens of PUIs for COVID-19 confirmatory testing there,” Gangoso said.
Since the country recently raised the high alert against COVID-19, specimens of PUI in Region 12 have been sent to the RITM for laboratory testing.
But the transport was hampered when flights to and from Metro Manila was ordered cancelled starting March 15 due to the one-month lockdown imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Major Arvin Encinas, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Mindanao Command, said that to fill the transport gap, the military allowed its planes from the Awang airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao to ferry the specimens of PUIs from Bangsamoro region and neighboring areas to Manila.
Based on the patient’s medical records, he said the cause of death was declared as “acute respiratory disease syndrome.”
Gangoso said the deceased PUI also suffered from diabetes and hypertension, and had a “cerebrovascular accident” or acute stroke.
Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., chief of the South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office, said the patient had no history of travel to areas with confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“He was previously admitted due to difficulty of breathing and was considered a PUI,” he said.
But Aturdido said the case appears similar to the 51-year-old male PUI who died last March 17 in a hospital in Koronadal City, South Cotabato due to severe acute respiratory illness but turned out negative of COVID-19.
Gangoso said the latest PUI death was the fourth case in Region 12 and the second in South Cotabato.
The first case was an 87-year-old male in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat who died last March 14, followed by the 51-year-old man in Koronadal and a 37-year-old female in North Cotabato, who expired last March 20 due to acute respiratory failure and pneumonia.
Citing data as of 5 p.m. Tuesday from the DOH-12’s epidemiology and surveillance unit, he said the region has recorded a total of 96 PUIs since Jan. 29, with 23 already cleared and discharged.
Gangoso said 46 were undergoing home quarantine while 23 were admitted in various hospitals in the region.
He said the confirmed COVID-19 case in the region remained at one and the patient (PH145) is currently admitted at the Cotabato Regional Medical Center in Cotabato City.
Some 3,614 persons under monitoring, Gangoso said, are undergoing 14-day mandatory home quarantine all over the region: 353 in Cotabato City, 650 in General Santos City, 1,245 in North Cotabato, 456 in Sarangani, 362 in South Cotabato, and 548 in Sultan Kudarat. (With reports from Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)