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PALAWAN, Philippines (UPDATED) – Palawan recorded its first confirmed coronavirus case, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron confirmed on Saturday, March 21.
The patient is a 26-year-old male Australian tourist who flew out of the city on March 17 through a “mercy flight” to Clark via Airswift, Bayron said in a press conference on Saturday at Puerto Princesa City Hall.
Bayron said the case was only confirmed to him Friday night by Dr. Mario Baquilod, chief of the regional health department. Currently, Palawan has 49 reported persons under investigation (PUIs) as of March 21, according to the Provincial Information Office
A statement from a regional Department of Health news release added the patient had history from Kuala Lumpur before flying to Manila.
The mayor said the tourist arrived in Manila on March 5. He then hopped on an undisclosed commercial plane to Puerto Princesa City on March 7.
The patient then travelled in the tourist town of San Vicente and stayed in a resort for 5 days. He sought a medical consultation upon experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
On the same day, he was fetched by the government’s Rescue 165 ambulance and brought to the Palawan Provincial Hospital where his nasal swab samples were collected for testing on March 14.
On March 15, the Provincial Hospital released the foreign national and recommended him to self-isolate. He then stayed for two days at an undisclosed hotel before availing of the said “mercy flight” after securing a health clearance from the City Health Office as his fever subsided.
The Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit began contact tracing activities for the case. Local health authorities and municipal government officials are working closely with the concerned hotels and other facilities where the patient stayed. (READ: Luzon lockdown: What are the do’s and don’ts?)
Baquilod also appealed to all individuals who will be contacted by the surveillance team to fully cooperate in the investigation and contact-tracing activities.
Individuals with a history of known exposure to the confirmed case are urged to get in touch with the Provincial Department of Health or the city health office for appropriate assessment for home quarantine, management and referral.
As of 3 pm on March 20, the regional DOH CHD reported a total of 39 PUIs in Palawan, and 11 of these tested negative for the coronavirus. Among the reported persons under investigation,18 were admitted in health facilities, while 21 are under home quarantine while awaiting test results from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.
“While we are still waiting for the other test results, we assure the public that our referral hospitals are well-equipped and prepared to handle COVID-19 cases once it arises in our provinces. Our health response team is taking extra precautions to prevent further transmission,” Baquilod said.
The city mayor meanwhile urged residents to stay calm and cooperate with authorities by observing the preventive measures, such as the home quarantine, social distancing, and proper hygiene, among others.
Bayron also approved the release of P1,500 for each household in the city to help them tide over during the enhanced community quarantine. The cash assistance will prioritize, especially the daily wage earners.
The top city official was earlier slammed by netizens for a remark urging residents to pawn their fishing boats for their subsistence during the month-long Luzon lockdown. He then apologized after garnering flak on social media. – Rappler.com