Cagayan de Oro targets house-to-house survey for coronavirus symptoms

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – In the absence of mass testing, the city government of Cagayan de Oro has ordered barangay health officials to conduct house-to-house survey of up to 160,000 families to check for symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease.

Mayor Oscar Moreno said the city will not be complacent even if the city only has one confirmed case.

City Health Office (CHO) resident epidemiologist Joselito Retuya said it was not an impossible task because their teams included community volunteers who conducted a polio immunization program on the same number of households recently.

Retuya said the house-to-house survey began on April 3. They've visited over 3,000 homes as of Monday, April 6, and found 227 residents exhibiting symptoms of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) and acute respiratory illnesses (ARI).

He said the barangay officials and volunteers were made to wear face masks and were given ample supply of rubbing alcohol.

"We will make further investigations on them to know whether they have travel history or contact with a Covid-19 positive person to determine whether they [should be considered] persons under investigation (PUIs) and under monitoring (PUMs) for the disease," Dr. Retuya said.

Cagayan De Oro's confirmed coronavirus case is known as Patient No. 597. He is a 71-year old male who visited the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan City, where the country's first cases of local transmission were reported. 

He was admitted in March at the city's Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC). He had since tested negative for coronavirus and was recovering as of Monday, said NMMC medical director Dr. Jose Chan. 

Two other coronavirus cases, both of whom are residents of nearby Lanao Del Sur, were also confined at the NMMC. Chan said the two were also recovering as of Monday.

The city's PUIs and PUMs have fallen sharply after many of them completed the 14-day mandated self-quarantine without showing symptoms. From January 3 to April 6, the number of PUMs dropped from 1,337 to only 12 while PUIs with mild symptoms dropped from 38 to only 3. 

Four other PUIs with severe symptoms were confined at the NMMC and were awaiting their test results. 

The city government said it is preparing for the possibility that the intensified surveillance will result in more PUIs and PUMs exhibiting mild to moderate symptoms.

Moreno said the city's priority is to isolate all these cases   and eventually get them tested. –