A female healthcare worker of the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) tested positive for COVID-19 Friday, bringing the total tally of confirmed cases in Palawan to 12.

Dr. Audie Cipriano, chief of the medical professional staff of the ONP, told Palawan News in an interview also Friday night that the health worker is “symptomatic”, experiencing slight fever and occasional coughing.

“Before kasi siya mapasok sa isolation ward natin for COVID, sa labas siya naka-duty sa ibang ward — area ng hospital. Noong nag-duty siya the first or second day noong [June] 16 nag-show siya ng signs and symptoms so she underwent ng testing ng GeneXpert, it turned out positive [siya],” Dr. Cipriano explained.

Dr. Cipriano said she has already been isolated in a city quarantine facility where her COVID-19 infection will be treated.

“Female [siya], nasa isa sa mga quarantine facility ng city naka-isolate, although mild symptoms kasi na slight fever, saka occasional cough — mild symptoms nasa isolation lang siya hindi kailangan sa hospital,” he added.

Dr. Cipriano added that ONP health workers who had been with her during her duties will be quarantined.

However, those whom she had “direct contact” with who will be symptomatic will be swabbed for RT-PCR GeneXpert confirmatory testing.

“Kung saan siya nanggaling, ide-decontaminate yong area na yon. Tapos lahat ng mga nakasama niya ika-quarantine namin na walang mga symptoms. Yong nakasama niya na may direct contact sa kanya na may symptoms, yon ang ia-undergo ng GeneXpert test,” Dr. Cipriano said.


Possible local transmission

Dr. Dean Palanca, city incident commander, in a Saturday morning live press briefing on Facebook said since the patient is not a locally stranded individual (LSI) or an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) returnee, it is “possible” that her case is “local transmission”.

“Tayo ay nag-iimbestiga pa rin po kung ano yong kaso na ito, pero masasabi natin na possible transmission ito sa Puerto Princesa City,” Dr. Palanca said.

Contact tracing involving her family is already being performed, he said.


ONP operations limited to emergency cases

With the recent development, Dr. Cipriano said the ONP will be limiting its operations to emergency cases only starting next week to avoid exposing patients and health workers.

He added that the operation that might be affected by this is the Outpatient Department (OPD) that caters to people who visit the hospital for diagnosis or treatment who do not require admission.

“Starting Monday, I will advice na yong head ng OPD to start informing our clienteles na ganoon ang mangyayari,” he said.


Contact tracing starts

With the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU), he said the ONP is now doing contact tracing, starting their swabbing activity on those who are symptomatic.

“Lahat ng kailangang i-swab ipinapa-swab na namin. Priority is those na symptomatic muna,” he said.

He said residents of Puerto Princesa can rest assured that they have now put in motion all control measures to ensure that the infection will not spread.

To date, Palawan already has a total of 12 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 10 of which are active cases, including the healthcare worker whose virus origin is yet to be determined.

(With reports from Romar Miranda, Ruth Rodriguez, and Celeste Anna Formoso)