GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 25 June) – Portions of a village in Tampakan town, South Cotabato province were placed under total lockdown for eight days effective Thursday after a police officer who briefly returned home two weeks ago tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Tampakan Mayor Leonard Escobillo said they have sealed off at least four puroks situated at the center of Barangay Lambayong to facilitate the ongoing extensive tracing and immediate isolation of all persons who possibly had contact with the male patient.
He said it covers the policeman’s neighborhood in Purok Pag-asa and nearby Puroks Bagong Silang, Mabuhay and Pagkakaisa, affecting around 400 families.
“All residents were advised to remain in their homes and not allowed to leave even for work,” he said in a radio interview.
The mayor said the move was in response to the confirmation released on Wednesday by the Department of Health-Region 11 that the policeman, who was assigned in Malalag town in Davao del Sur, has turned out positive for Covid-19 in Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.
He said the latter, a member of the Special Action Force, was earlier granted a four-day break to visit his family and arrived in Tampakan last June 12.
Escobillo said the policeman was allowed to just undergo home quarantine after being cleared through rapid diagnostic test and eventually returned to his assignment in Malalag on June 16.
But it turned out that the policeman underwent swab collection for PCR testing before visiting his family after some members of his unit tested positive for Covid-19.
His PCR test also came out positive of the disease based on the results released by the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.
Based on the initial contact-tracing until Wednesday night, Escobillo said they identified at least 14 persons who had direct contact with the patient.
These were composed of family members, close relatives and workers hired for the renovation of the policeman’s house.
“But we found out during the contact-tracing that the policeman breached the home quarantine protocol. He mingled with a number of persons and even visited some nearby areas,” Escobillo said.
There were reports that the latter visited a portion of Barangay Kipalbig in Tampakan during his four-day break.
Escobillo said it turned out that he even hosted a drinking session in his house and visited a major hardware store in Koronadal City.
The municipal government has already reached out to the city government of Koronadal for the expanded contact-tracing, he said.
The mayor expressed disappointment over the policeman’s actions, noting that “he should have been responsible enough” to follow the quarantine protocols being considered a front-liner.
He referred the matter to the municipal legal office for the possible filing of administrative and criminal complaints against the policeman.
Escobillo added that they will regularly assess the extent of the problem for the possible implementation of other necessary interventions.
Early this month, the municipality recorded its first confirmed Covid-19 case – a returning locally-stranded individual who returned home from Cebu last May 31.
The then pregnant female patient delivered her child while undergoing isolation and both remain in stable condition. (MindaNews)