NARRA, Palawan — Local authorities here have placed an entire household in Osmeña Street under close watch as “persons under monitoring” (PUM) following reports that two of its occupants who have a history of travel to Port Barton in San Vicente may have come under direct contact with an Australian national who recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Barangay Captain Roderick Aperocho said Monday to Palawan News that the Municipal Health Office (MHO) and barangay personnel are frequently monitoring the health condition of around 10 persons in the household.

He stressed that none of them have shown symptoms of the viral infection.

“Persons under monitoring pa lang sila. Wala naman kaming nakitang symptoms sa lahat ng member ng family na naka-quarantine doon, wala naman kahit yung mga bata,” Aperocho said.

Earlier reports claiming that the entire section of the town had been placed under a total lockdown had spread on social media, as local officials in full personal protective equipment conducting contact tracing visited the household and interviewed its occupants.

Mayor Gerandy Danao had clarified that he had not issued a lockdown order and that health officials are only following safety protocols to prevent a potential spread of the virus in the community.

The local government has extended assistance to the household now placed under quarantine including supplying them food provisions and other basic necessities.

Two females that are part of the household had reportedly worked or stayed in Port Barton and made direct contact with the Australian national who is the lone COVID-19 positive person in Palawan. The foreign national had already left the country when test results from the Regional Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) confirmed the infection.

Camille Arroyo, Nurse II Disease Surveillance Officer of Narra Municipal Health Office told Palawan News that the two women had traveled from Port Barton, San Vicente and are therefore required to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

“Na-hold po sila ng barangay tanod kasi parang gusto nilang tumakas. Sabi po ng nanay ng boyfriend noong isa sa mga babae na gusto nilang umalis,” Arroyo told Palawan News

She said that the mother of one of the women’s boyfriend reported to the authorities when she found out that the girls had contact with the Australian national whom they had met in San Vicente.

“Ang nag-report ‘yong nanay ng boyfriend ng babae hindi po kasi taga-Narra ‘yong babae. Dalawa po silang babae na andyan ‘yong isa from Roxas ‘yong isa taga-San Vicente. Pumunta lang sila sa boyfriend noong isa na nandito sa Narra tapos ang nag-report ‘yong boyfriend po, ‘yong nanay ng boyfriend,” she said.

Mayor Gerandy Danao said they had considered transferring the patients to Puerto Princesa City for monitoring, but their health officers said that since their condition is normal, they just placed the household under monitoring.

“Lahat naman binibigay, pati nga sigarilyo nagdedemand sila. Sabi ko nga kay Mun at kay Doc kung talagang may problema yan bakit hindi natin ipadala na lang sa Puerto yan. Ang sabi naman ni doc wala namang ganun, ang problema lang natin gumagala kaya nilalagyan natin ng tao,” Danao said.

Aperocho said the reason that they are holding the household as PUMs because of the nature of the work of two women who had come back from Port Barton.

“Hindi natin alam kung sino ang nakakasalamuha nila doon, naka-contact, nakausap ng foreigner doon syempre galing Barton. Mas mabuti na nakakasigurado tayo. Hindi po natin pwedeng isawalang bahala, at kampante tayo na wala lang ‘yon, kasi nga galing sila sa Barton, galing doon yung foreigner,” he said.

He said that under the quarantine, the household occupants are under guard to prevent them from leaving the premises.

“Syempre 14 days bawal sila lumabas, kumbaga sinusunod natin ang protocol. Kasi nga may katigasan din ang ulo, baka pag walang tao baka hindi mapasunod ng nanay at syempre yong dalawang babae baka umalis tumakas at hindi na natin ma-retrieve nang hindi pa natatapos ang 14 days. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit kailangan ng bantay,” he said.

He also said that the health officers did not recommend testing for COVID-19 because no person in the household had demonstrated any symptom.

“Unang una bakit natin ipapatest kung wala tayong nakikitang symptoms at hindi pa natatapos ang 14 days na quarantine after ng 14 days quarantine at wala tayong makitang symptoms,” he said.

He reminded other local residents of barangay not to panic and if they have queries, they could come to the barangay office.

“Mensahe ko sa kanila huwag silang magpanic, huwag silang matakot, kasi ang mga taong andoon ay undee monitoring at regular naman,” Aperocho said.

“Sa ngayon kampante ako na sa sitwasyon na ito na itong mga itong PUM ay hindi naman positibo sa COVID-19, ‘yong mga lumalabas sa Social Media wag po nilang sakyan at paniwalaan ang pakinggan nila kami mismo ba magmomonitor sa mga PUM na ‘yon,” he added.

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Jayra Joyce Cañete Taboada handles the law and order and the science and education beats. She is also a licensed professional teacher.