A suspected case of COVID-19 local transmission in Coron town prompted local authorities in the Calamianes islands group on Tuesday to tighten their quarantine controls in a bid to stop a potential local outbreak.
The case involves an octogenarian patient who died of COVID-19 at the Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital (CSGH) Tuesday and was previously determined by health officials as a local transmission case because she had no history of travel.
Previously known cases in Coron and the rest of the Calamianes region had been returning local residents who were isolated prior to confirmatory testing that showed them to be positive of the virus.
Coron authorities have so far locked down the neighborhood of the deceased patient in Barangay Tagumpay, as part of protocol measures to avert a potential spread of the virus.
Dr. Alan Guintapan, Coron Municipal Health Officer (MHO), said the patient was earlier brought to the CSGH after complaining of breathing difficulty. Dr. Neal Torre, spokesperson of CSGH, announced the patient’s death on Tuesday.
Guintapan said the lockdown will begin Wednesday and will be maintained for 14 days.
“Inuumpisahan na i-cordon ‘yong boundary, pero formally bukas nang umaga alas sais magsisimula ang lockdown hanggang 14 days,” Guintapan said.
Reacting to the incident, the municipalities of Linapacan, Busuanga, and Culion issued separate advisories banning travel within their neighboring towns.
Busuanga, which shares the same mainland as Coron, closed off its borders and issued strict guidelines for those traversing the municipalities, such as requiring travel passes, point-to-point transactions, and banning pillion riding.
“Pansamantalang lockdown lang – since last night hanggang ngayon, bawal nang lumabas at pumasok ng Busuanga muna until after mag-meeting ang Municipal COVID-19 Task Force ngayong (August 18) 9 a.m. Makikipag-uganayan kami sa Coron para malaman namin ang extent ng contact tracing at saka ng gravity ng case sa kanila. Then we will decide if we will lift the lockdown ng Busuanga at para maiayos lang ang guidelines ng Busuanga kung ano ang dapat gagawin,” said Jonathan Dabuit, Busuanga information officer
Other island towns followed suit. Culion issued a travel ban for those entering and exiting the municipality, except for emergencies.
“Dahil sa anunsyo ng bayan ng Coron nitong Agosto 17, 2020, na may local transmission sa nasabing munisipyo, ipinapaalam ng Lokal na Pamahalaan ng Culion na pansamantalang pinagbabawalan ang pagbiyahe papasok at paglabas ng Culion,” the statement read.
Linapacan also issued a temporary travel ban for those coming from other Calamian islands and also required all incoming persons to undergo 14-day quarantine upon entering the municipality.
“Bilang pagtugon sa pagdeklara ng local transmission ng COVID-19 ng bayan ng Coron nitong ika-17 ng Agosto 2020, napagkasunduan ng Linapacan IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) na pansamantalang suspendihin ang biyahe ng mga bangka papunta at pabalik galing sa ibang munisipyo ng Calamian area simula Agosto 17-31, 2020,” the statement read.
(With reports from Romar Miranda, Jane Tumalac, Ruth Rodriguez, and Patricia Laririt)