In just a matter of a day, Coron this week reported 16 new cases of coronavirus. It was the single biggest spark in COVID-19 monitoring in the province since the lockdowns began in March.
Health authorities reported towards the weekend that 15 of the cases were close contacts, mostly relatives, of another patient who died from COVID-19 at the Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital. It was a tragic day for the family who now have to go through the ordeal and the many others in the town who are their close contacts and have to be quarantined as part of containment measures.
The situation in Coron, no matter how alarming it may seem, is not as bad as it looks. At the least, health authorities confirmed this was not a case of community transmission or one that involves the spread of the virus in two separate locations where the source of infection is unknown. In this case, the standard protocol of isolating the patients should be sufficient to ensure that the virus will not spread further in the community.
In the next two weeks, Coronians will go through a hands-on experience of fighting the virus using an effective and proven technique that is available to them, other than a vaccine being dangled by the government as the only way out of this pandemic.
In this island battleground of COVID-19, Coronians will be fighting the virus utilizing the basic precaution of isolating and treating individuals who are positive and monitoring the condition of their close contacts and getting them tested. It is the exact same strategy that health experts have been asking this government to focus on building its capacity on a national scale. It is what the World Health Organization has been advising nations to focus on, rather than surrendering their fate on a vaccine that is yet to be proven.
Because of its relative isolation as an island municipality, Coron’s current experience with coronavirus is an ideal case study on COVID-19 response by a local community. It should provide useful lessons not just to Palawan but to the country at large what are the necessary responses to effectively contain the spread of the virus given our current limitations.