Overrun by the rapid turnover of developments on Palawan’s fight against the spread of coronavirus was a serious mishap in local health authorities’ handling of the case of an Australian national who was the only confirmed COVID-19 case in Palawan.
Among these recent developments was the news that came out Friday confirming that the particular Australian national, who had left the country before he was found out to be positive for the virus, had already fully recovered.
Also of pressing concern has been the efforts of local government units to distribute relief assistance to locals struggling to make it through the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
What remains unresolved and unsettled to this day however is whether there was breach of protocol on the part of city health authorities and political leaders who facilitated the departure of the Australian national under questionable circumstances.
The hotel establishment where the patient was checked in for two days by city officials prior to his departure, had raised alarm that there was a breach of protocol that may have endanger their personnel who came into contact with a COVID positive patient.
Recently, the hotel announced its temporary closure, alongside plans to disinfect its premises and a vow to help its economically displaced employees.
The airline company that flew the monitored patient to Clark, Pampanga on March 17 also separately denied city officials’ assertions that they followed protocol, including isolating the patient inside the plane and outside the airport terminal prior to the plane’s departure.
The city government has been keeping mum on the dispute, even as it busies itself on efforts to alleviate the difficulties of its constituents facing the health crisis, and addressing other challenges poised by the ongoing crisis.
However, the fact that this issue has remained unresolved is a cause for concern. It belies the capacity of the local government to handle a potentially more serious situation such as the spread of the virus through local contamination.
It also poses a question of accountability, in the instance that the Australian undergoing virus shedding at the time he was exposed to the public may have spread the disease to a still undetermined number of people.
There has been little disclosure on the results of contact tracing done on the case of the Australian patient, if only to gauge the extent of aggravation the mishandling and fumbling have brought.