Caraga region no longer COVID-19 free

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 6 April) — Caraga region revealed Monday its first confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case, a 68-year-old male from Butuan City with a pre-existing medical condition.

In an interview with government-owned Radyo Pilipinas in Butuan City, Dr. Jose Llacuna, Jr., Department of Health (DOH) – Caraga director, said the elderly patient has recovered and was discharged from the Caraga Regional Hospital in Surigao City.

The patient has a travel history to Manila, arrived in Butuan last March 12 and immediately went on home quarantine as a person under monitoring (PUM).

During his home quarantine, however, he developed fever, cough and colds and was referred to the Caraga Regional Hospital as a person under investigation or PUI.

As this developed, Agusan del Sur Gov. Santiago Cane, Jr. issued Executive Order 18-20 on Monday noon restoring the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) declaration in the entire province.

Cane said the measure is important to prevent the dreaded virus from spreading in this landlocked province, especially since there is no Level 3 hospital in the area that can facilitate treatment of COVID-19.

Agusan del Sur Second District Rep. Adolph Edward Plaza, who had been a long-time governor, said in a live interview with Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar that the province also cannot afford a COVID-19 contagion with its lack of medical facilities.

He said the move for a total border lockdown in the province has been widely supported by the residents.

“We’re looking at the worst case scenario, a lockdown that would prolong from three to six months,” said Plaza, assuring that the province has enough food supply for a longer lockdown.

Llacuna said the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit already conducted contact tracing to those with whom the COVID-19 confirmed patient had close interactions.

“I would like to remind the public that this is something that we need to take seriously. Follow the policies set by the government and by the DOH. Remember to practice physical distancing, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, boost your immune system, and avoid sharing unverified news,” Llacuna said.

As of April 5, DOH-Caraga has tallied a total of 12 PUIs, four of whom are currently admitted and eight under strict home quarantine.

Caraga or Region 13 straddles the provinces of Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands.

Dr. Cheryl A. Gotinga, officer-in-charge of the Caraga Regional Hospital, said the region’s first COVID-19 positive patient is hypertensive, diabetic and has a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“The management would like to ask for sobriety from the public and at the same time, to continue to be vigilant. This is the first (COVID-19 positive) case for the hospital and the Caraga region,” Gotinga said.

Owing to the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the region, the Caraga Regional Task Force Against COVID-19, called “One Caraga Shield,” has approved a resolution declaring the whole region under an enhanced community quarantine effective today, April 6, according to the Philippine Information Agency. (With a report from Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)