COVID19-positive tugboat crew leaves behind long list of people to contact-trace in Iligan

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 15 July) – A tugboat crew member who felt ill and disembarked with two others at dawn to have medical checkup in one of the hospitals here has left behind a long list of people for health authorities to contact-trace after it was found out he was positive of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

A ship docked at the Iligan CIty pier. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

Dr. Cherlina Cañaveral, Iligan City Health Officer, said three crew members of a tugboat vessel crew went out of the port area downtown at 4 a.m. on July 8 and took a jeepney ride to a nearby hospital.

She said it was not clear if the crew members sought permission from their vessel captain.

But since there was no physician at that time, they soon left, took a taxi cab, and the two disembarked at the port area. Cañaveral said the sickly one hired the taxi all the way to his residence in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, and sought medical treatment there.

Cañaveral said the patient was referred to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center for the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test and was found positive of COVID-19. He is now contained at the isolation and treatment facility of NMMC, she added.

Nine other crew members of M/TUG Schedar owned by Harbor Star Tugboat Company are reportedly now on a 14-day quarantine in their port of origin, Dumaguete City.

Based on the contact-tracing report conducted by personnel of Police Station 5 under Maj. Allan Abalde, the 39-year-old taxi driver is a resident of Barangay Maria Cristina in neighboring Baloi municipality in Lanao del Norte.

The taxi driver, police said, immediately went back to Iligan City and resumed picking up passengers. He went to the taxi operator’s residence in the evening to return the car and remit the car rental fee.

The driver is also a masseur, and a day later went to a military camp in Barangay Nangka in Baloi to provide massage services to three soldiers.

In the next days, he resumed driving in downtown Iligan.

Abalde said the driver had a drinking spree at home with four of his cousins and a taxi driver from Bacolod town in Lanao del Norte.

On July 12, Sunday, upon hearing the news that the police was looking for him, he voluntarily turned himself in and followed the health protocol advised him.

Cañaveral said the driver tested negative in a rapid diagnostic test and has shown no symptoms of COVID-19. He is now on home quarantine and is being closely monitored by the Barangay Emergency Health Team.

The management of the Philippine Ports Authority here, meanwhile, vowed to implement a stricter health protocol for all people coming in and exiting the facility to prevent further spread of the virus. (Richel V. Umel / MindaNews)