GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 14 July) – A sitio in Banga town, South Cotabato province was placed under total lockdown for five days starting Tuesday after a returning Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) who tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was found to have breached the quarantine protocol.
Banga Mayor Albert Palencia said they have sealed off the entire Sitio Awal in Barangay Lamba to facilitate the extensive tracking of persons who possibly had contact with the 31-year-old female patient.
He said all residents of the sitio are strictly prohibited to go beyond its boundaries until the end of the lockdown on Saturday, July 18, or “upon further notice.”
“Visitors are also not allowed to enter the area during the period,” he said in a radio interview.
In a memorandum issued on Monday, the mayor said the move was mainly due to the “untraceable/uncontrolled” movements made by the OFW, who was among the seven COVID-19 cases confirmed in South Cotabato last Saturday.
The latter, who had worked in Kuwait, arrived from Manila last July 6 aboard a commercial flight via the city international airport here.
She was fetched at the airport by the provincial government’s Balik Probinsya team and turned over to municipal government personnel upon arrival in Koronadal City.
Palencia said the returning worker later underwent rapid antibody screening and swab collection for Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test at the Municipal Health Office (MHO).
He said the latter was allowed to undergo home quarantine while waiting for the release of the test results due to the lack of available space at the municipal isolation facility.
But he said it turned out that the OFW did not comply with her mandatory home quarantine and even went to nearby Surallah town to visit the canning plant of Dole Philippines.
The mayor said the latter married her partner in Islamic rites last July 10, a day before she tested positive for COVID-19.
Palencia said they already isolated the patient’s husband and child, and will subject them to RT-PCR testing.
He said MHO personnel, in coordination with the barangay health emergency response team, has so far traced at least 26 individuals who had direct contact with the OFW.
“That number could still increase as we continue with the expanded contact-tracing,” Palencia said.
He said the patient, who remains asymptomatic, is currently under close observation at an isolation facility located at the back of the municipal hall.
As of Tuesday, Banga already recorded a total of seven confirmed COVID-19 cases, with four recoveries. (MindaNews)