Health workers in CDO conduct house-to-house search in neighborhood of deceased COVID-19 patient

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 26 April) – Health workers are conducting a massive house-to-house search in Barangay Camaman-an here to check on neighbors and other persons in close contact with a resident who died on April 18 and was found to have tested positive for COVID-19 when the results of his lab test were released on April 23.

Searched on Saturday were 680 houses within a 50-meter radius of the house of Patient no. 6873 in Pinikitan, Barangay Camaman-an this city.

“Our target is 1,000 houses and we could probably finish the search by Monday,” said Dr. Joselito Retuya, chief epidemiologist of the Cagayan de Oro City Health Office.

Residents go through an improvised disinfection cubicle in Adela Subdivision in Barangay Camaman-an, Cagayan de Oro City on Saturday, April 25, 2020 as news spread about the death of a COVID-19 patient in nearby Pinikitan village. Residents set up barricades at every street in Barangay Camaman-an overnight. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Retuya said despite the number of people already examined and questioned, the crucial question of how Patient no. 6873 contracted the corona virus still remains unknown.

“I will be honest with you, we still do not know how he contracted the virus,” Retuya told MindaNews.

Patient no. 6873, a 69-year-old store keeper in Pinikitan died at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center last April 18.

The search or contact tracing started when the deceased was admitted to the NMMC last April 17.

Mayor Oscar Moreno and doctors from the NMMC and Department of Health Region 10 learned the patient contracted the virus when his lab results from the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City arrived.

Moreno said the patient did not have any travel history, raising a scary possibility that this was a local transmission.

Retuya said the medical workers composed of 20 barangay health workers, a nurse and a doctor found only nine persons who complained of colds and slight fever but none of the symptoms of  COVID-19.

He said the medical workers are residents of Barangay Camaman-an, making the search faster since they know the community members.

Despite the familiarity, Retuya said they face a black wall on the source of infection of the patient.

“The health conditions of the nine persons do not even warrant a swab test. We advised them to stay indoors, “ Retuya said.

Volunteers man a barricade in Barangay Pinikitan, Cagayan de Oro on Saturday, April 25, 2020 as news spread that a resident in their village died of COVID-19. Barricades manned by concerned residents sprouted on every street from Pinikitan to Adela and Ramonal village in Barangay Camaman-an, telling outsiders to keep off. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Retuya said the City Health Office is also digging death certificates of those who recently died in Pinikitan in the hope of finding who transmitted the virus to Patient 6873.

He said they were puzzled because based on their interviews with the granddaughter and son of the deceased, the patient was bedridden at the back of the store.

“We were told he barely came out to watch the store. So who could have infected him?” Retuya said.

Retuya said they have already contacted, checked on the doctor and nurse who examined the patient when he was admitted at the Polymedic hospital here.

He said both the doctor and nurse told them they were wearing masks, goggles and protective clothing or PPE.

Retuya said all 16 family members of the patient have been taken to an undisclosed isolation facility in the city.

The news that a positive COVID-19 patient died caused a major uproar in Barangay Camaman-an, a densely populated urban area in Cagayan de Oro.

NO ENTRY. Residents barricaded a road leading to Ramonal Subdivision in Cagayan de Oro City on Saturday, April 25, 2020 as news spread about the death of a COVID-19 patient nearby. Residents set up barricades at every street in Barangay Camaman-an overnight. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Overnight, residents put up chokepoints and barricades in Pinikitan, Adela and Ramonal subdivisions to prevent non-residents from entering their streets.

Jittery men and youngsters manned these chokepoints and barricades demanding to see the Barangay Exit Pass for everyone entering or leaving their streets.

Most of them even set up improvised disinfection cubicles made of flimsy plastics, which they require everyone to go through.

Many of them brought small bottles of alcohol, which they spray on the hands of passersby. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)