A POLICE officer who was assigned at the Basilica del Sto. Niño in downtown Cebu City has tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
City Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief implementer of the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), said the result came out on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, a day after she was swabbed.
Garganera said the police officer was experiencing symptoms of the disease, which prompted her to undergo the test at the Regional Health Services 7.
In a press conference, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Col. Josefino Ligan said contact tracers are still trying to determine where the police officer contracted the disease, considering that devotees had already been barred from entering the basilica when her symptoms manifested.
Augustinian friars canceled the physical novena masses at the basilica last Jan. 12 to prevent the surge of devotees from getting infected with the disease.
Ligan said the police officer is the first cop to acquire the disease since Aug. 26, 2020, when all the remaining 113 CCPO personnel who had tested positive for Covid-19 recovered.
Garganera said at least 10 close contacts of the police officer have been isolated and have been swabbed.
The patient is currently staying at the IC3 Bayanihan Center.
Garganera said contact tracers had a hard time identifying the police officer since the address she put down on her documents was her hometown in Negros Island.
He said there was no risk of the police officer infecting devotees since they had already been barred from entering the basilica and she and her colleagues manning the entrance and exit all wore face masks and face shields.
Meanwhile, recent data from the EOC showed that detention facilities are among the top three major sources of transmission, accounting for 9.45 percent of total cases in the city.
Garganera said all persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) are tested for Covid-19 before they are transferred to the Cebu City Jail from the police stockade.
He said police stations conduct regular disinfection and swabbing of detained persons.
He said most of the positive PDLs are completing their 14-day quarantine, with majority of them being asymptomatic.
The two other major sources of outside transmission are the workplace (24.92 percent) and social gatherings (17.76 percent). Household transmission accounts for 40.13 percent of total cases.
As of Wednesday, Jan. 20, Cebu City has logged a total of 11,571 confirmed Covid cases with 10,233 recoveries. The death toll stands at 702.
The city currently has 636 active cases.
Of this number, 350 are staying at the Normal Oasis for Adaptation and a Home (Noah), 54 are staying at the IC3 Bayanihan Center, 46 are in public and government hospitals and the rest are in private facilities and hotels.
Noah manager Jocelyn Pesquera said the original capacity of Noah was only 316, but they’ve raised this to 360 to accommodate additional patients.
Due to the recent increase in the number of cases, the CCPO has asked the EOC to reactivate border checkpoints in 40 of the city’s 80 barangays.
In Mandaue City, the City Engineer’s Office (CEO) and the Office of the Building Official (OBO) were locked down on Thursday, Jan. 21, after one CEO employee tested positive for Covid-19.
John Eddu Ibañez, Mayor Jonas Cortes’ executive secretary, said the patient experienced flu-like symptoms and went to the hospital for a check-up. But the patient still reported for work afterward. As a result, 74 personnel from the two offices had to be swabbed.
The CEO employee is now under home quarantine.
Ibañez said if another employee tests positive, they’ll have to conduct additional contact tracing. But if they all turn out negative, then the two offices can resume operations, he said.
Ibañez said the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office has disinfected the CEO and the OBO, which share the first floor of a building on Plaridel St. in Barangay Centro.
The Department of General Services (DGS), which is on the second floor of the same building, was not included in the lockdown.
“DGS personnel don’t really interact much with personnel of the CEO and the OBO since the stairs to the second floor are located by the entrance,” Ibañez said in Cebuano.
In another development, the Department of Health (DOH) 7 said the six individuals from Central Visayas who were co-passengers of the first confirmed Filipino patient of the new variant of the coronavirus, tested negative for Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
In a text message to SunStar Cebu on Thursday, Jan. 21, Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson, said the six passengers were on board Emirates Flight EK 332 with the positive patient but they were not in close contact.
“Tested negative with our molecular testing twice, upon arrival and on Day 5 of quarantine. We only send samples for genomic sequencing if the PCR result is positive and the cycle threshold is 30 and below,” Loreche said.
She said all six are in isolation, but she did not say where. Their 14-day quarantine period will end on Saturday, Jan. 23.
Two are from Bohol. One is from Consolacion in Cebu. Two are from Cebu Province (their address was not specified), and one is from Negros Oriental.
The DOH central office says 14 people (nine other passengers and five close contacts) have tested positive for Covid-19 after being exposed to the first B.1.1.7 variant case.
The first confirmed variant case is a 29-year-old male resident of Quezon City who traveled to Dubai with his partner. They returned to Manila via Emirates EK 332 last Jan. 7.
The next day, the man was found positive for Sars-CoV-2 and diagnosed with pneumonia. He was transferred to an isolation facility in Quezon City and his specimens were sent to the Philippine Genome Center for whole genome sequencing. (JJL, AYB, KFD, WBS with SunStar Philippines)