Three repatriated seamen found positive in rapid tests

NATIONAL NEWS
By Divina M. Suson
May 3, 2020

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ILIGAN CITY ----- Three seafarers who arrived at the ports of Iligan and Ozamiz Wednesday (April 29) tested positive in rapid tests conducted by health authorities.

The first batch of eight overseas Filipino workers, who arrived from Manila onboard the St. Michael the Archangel of 2GO Shipping, were among over 300 repatriated from their work abroad.

Four are residents of Lanao del Norte, two from Lanao del Sur and two residents of Iligan City.

Lyndon Calica, Head of Lanao del Norte Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Incident Command Center on COVID-19, said that one OFW, a resident of Kapatagan town, was swabbed for the RT-PCR test (RPT) to confirm results of the rapid test.

“We have the same sentiments with Misamis Occidental that the people in Manila should have properly facilitated the certification of the OFWs and they should (have) announced it ahead, they should coordinate with the LGUs (local government units) concerned,” Calica said in a phone interview.

The seaman, whose last country of assignment was Italy, is reportedly “okay” and is being closely monitored by the Health Emergency Response Team (HEART) at the provincial isolation center while the three others are quarantined at their respective LGU, Calica said.

Later, one of the repatriated from Lanao del Sur also tested positive in a rapid test. They were earlier fetched by the medical team of Lanao del Sur IATF, were sent directly to the provincial quarantine facility in Marawi City according to LdS spokesperson Zia Alonto Adiong.

"They are now in Wao, Lanao del Sur. When they arrived in Wao, they were subjected to rapid test and one of them turned out positive. They are now isolated at Wao quarantine facility under strict monitoring. They are asymptomatic," Adiong said.

Hours before they arrived at Iligan port, five other seafarers bound for Ozamiz City and other towns of Misamis Occidental, disembarked at Ozamiz port from the same vessel.

One of them also tested positive in a rapid test conducted before they were brought to different isolation areas and are now awaiting the result of the confirmatory RT-PCR test.

Meantime, two of the seamen repatriated to Iligan City are now undergoing “strict home quarantine” at their respective residences in lieu of undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine at the Iligan City National High School (ICNHS), said City Health Officer Cherlina Caṅaveral.

 The two repatriated overseas workers coming from Manila arrived Iligan port, past 1:00AM on Wednesday (April 29) onboard 2GO vessel, St. Michael the Archangel, with four others from Lanao del Norte and two from Lanao del Sur.

However, the two Iligan residents have not undergone rapid tests unlike their six companions, one of whom tested positive of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies.

The local government unit (LGU) of Iligan previously prepared two rooms of the school in Barangay Mahayahay to convert it to an isolation area for Iligan residents repatriated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We prepared this isolation area since April. This is complete with water and electricity. We have two separate rooms for male and female patients with ten bed capacity each. At the middle of the two rooms is a buffer zone where the donning and doping areas are and the health care station for the health care workers to stay in,” said City Councilor Laberto Macapagal, committee chairman on health in the city council.

Placing a returning resident under a 14-day quarantine, even if he had already completed it from his place of origin, is a protocol mandated by the LGU to ensure the isolation of potential virus carriers.

Caṅaveral said while the isolation area is already ready for use, it still cannot be activated since the memorandum of agreement regarding the terms of its usage between Iligan LGU and the Department of Education was not yet signed.

“But we are putting them under strict home quarantine by monitoring them daily. We have team that visits them daily to check on their health and if they are really observing the strict home quarantine,” she added.

Caṅaveral said the returning OFWs did not undergo rapid test because they already underwent the mandated complete health protocol administered by the Department of Health (DOH), before they departed from Manila, including the necessary quarantine. 

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