More returning students from Cebu found positive of COVID-19

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 27 May) ­– Two more returning students from Cebu who took a sea vessel on their way home were tested positive of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the quarantine isolation unit here, doctors said.

A ship docks at the Cagayan de Oro City pier in Barangay Macabalan. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

This brings the total number of COVID-19-positive students to 14 among those who returned to Mindanao.

The students, who were stranded in Cebu City during the lockdown, availed of the government’s Balik Program to go back to their respective families.

At least 25 of them arrived in Cagayan de Oro aboard a 2Go vessel last May 19.

Nine from the group were immediately quarantined in Cagayan de Oro while the Maguindanao provincial government fetched 16 other students and brought them back to their province.

Dr. Joselito Retuya, chief epidemiologist at the Cagayan de Oro City Health Office, said the latest to be found positive of COVID-19 was a 25-year-old female student, a resident of Barangay Lumbia here.

Retuya said the student has cough, diarrhea and is experiencing shortness of breath but is in stable condition.

The first in the group of students to have been found positive of the coronavirus was a 26-year-old architectural student who hails from Iligan City.

Retuya said the source of the students’ infection might be at the port of Cebu where they stayed for four days while waiting for passage to Cagayan de Oro. He added that it was unlikely that the students were infected at the boat as it was only an overnight travel.

He said the nine students were quarantined in an undisclosed place in Cagayan de Oro soon after they arrived.

Of the 16 returning Maguindanao students, 12 were found to be positive of COVID-19, according to Dr. Elizabeth Samama, chief of the Maguindanao Provincial Hospital.

She said one student had symptoms upon arrival and confirmed positive when all the students were tested. The rest, who are also quarantined in a building near the hospital, again underwent reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test Friday last week when three of them developed fever. The results were released Tuesday.

Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan, Minister of Health of the Bangsamoro Region, said the students were not tested when they left Cebu port.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella was quoted in a report published in the Cebu Daily News that he ordered investigation why the Maguindanao students were allowed to leave Cebu without being tested for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Bukidnon InterAgency Task Force spokesperson Hansel Echavez told MindaNews that no students from Bukidnon came with the students on the May 19 voyage. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)