(File photo courtesy of PDRRMO through Palawan PIO)

Three of the 276 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and locally stranded individuals (LSIs) who arrived early morning on Friday via a 2GO passenger vessel have been tagged for probable COVID-19 infection.

City health authorities disclosed that the three returnees tested positive for antibodies during their rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) conducted upon arrival at the city port.

Puerto Princesa incident team commander and assistant city health officer Dr. Dean Palanca said in a live press briefing also Friday morning that they were part of the 105 city OFWs and LSIs who arrived via 2GO passenger vessel.

The group, which arrived around 4 a.m. Friday was the largest group so far to have arrived in the city since May 26.

“Tatlo ang nag-positive sa IgM (immunoglobulin M) under po sa examination ng rapid diagnostic testing (RDT). Itong tatlong ito ay kino-consider namin na probable COVID infection. Meron silang probable COVID infection,” Dr. Palanca said.

Dr. Palanca said the three patients, a male and two females, are currently in the city quarantine facility and isolated in their individual rooms.

He added they will undergo swabbing and their specimens will be subjected to confirmatory tests using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

“Para malaman natin kung confirmed ba na sila ay may COVID or baka naman sila ay walang COVID infection. Out of 105 na katao, tatlo po dyan ang positive o sabihin natin [na] reactive sa IgM at sila ay considered probable COVID infected. Sila ay mag-u-undergo ng RT-PCR test sa mga ilang araw pang dadating,” he said.



Dr. Palanca also said that the rest of the OFW returnees and LSIs will be quarantined for 14 days and will be monitored daily.

Of the group that arrived, some 171 are from various towns while 105 are city residents.

Provincial Aid for LSIs

Sam Magbanua, head of the Sagip Palaweño program for returnees and chief of staff of the Office of the Governor, said 18 of their repatriates belong the 217 stranded Palaweño group from Manila.

“Kasama sa mga dumating yong 18 na from Palaweños stranded in Manila na grupo nila Cherry Ann Bacar. Initially, 46 sa kanila nakatanggap ng P2,000 each na financial assistance from the province,” he said.

A release from the PIO on June 4, on the other hand, said P1.7 million have been granted by the province as financial assistance to the LSIs through the Aid to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office.

PSWDO head Abigail Ablaña said around 782 LSIs have already received financial aid from the provincial government from May 5 to June 2.

Palawan LSIs and OFW Returnees

While rapid testing of incoming persons is part of local health protocols, several individuals who claimed to be among those repatriated, have claimed in social media posts that they did not undergo rapid testing and were allowed to proceed to their municipal destinations upon arrival in the city.

Provincial health officials sought by Palawan News to comment on the allegations have yet to respond.

(With reports from Romar Miranda and Ruth Rodriguez)