Camiguin Island sees surge in COVID-19 cases

Bobby Lagsa
Camiguin Island sees surge in COVID-19 cases

CAMIGUIN. In this file photo, a resident registers for contract tracing at a quarantine control point in Mambajao, Camiguin on February 28, 2021.

Mambajao, Camiguin Mayor Yñigo Romualdo's Facebook page

Nearly half of Camiguin's 364 COVID-19 cases are documented during the first week of July

Camiguin, the second smallest island province in the country, managed to keep its COVID-19 cases the lowest in Northern Mindanao until July, when the number of its daily infections increased to double-digit figures.

The island saw 144 new cases of COVID-19 just over a week since the month started, a first since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

On Thursday, July 8, Camiguin registered 18 cases, more than its neighbor Misamis Oriental that managed to lower its number of infections to 16 that day.

Officials had attributed Camiguin Island’s low number of COVID-19 cases to strict border control and stringent monitoring of travelers at the Balingoan Port in Misamis Oriental.

Camiguin, a province of only five towns and a population of 92,808, has so far registered 364 COVID-19 cases with five deaths since 2020. Nearly half of the cases were documented during the first week of this month.

The surge in Camiguin’s COVID-19 cases alarmed the region’s health officials.

Dr. Josel Llacuna Jr., director of the Department of Health (DOH) in Northern Mindanao, said the surge was due to local transmissions.

The virus was spreading faster that Camiguin’s provincial hospital had to increase its COVID-19 bed capacity, he said.

Llacuna said local officials and residents should make sure that even those with mild cases are hospitalized.

“Those who are asymptomatic must be guarded because they might develop into mild or severe,” he said.

Llacuna said the challenge was how to speed up the process of testing people in Camiguin given that it is an island and not easily accessible.

The DOH sent a “viral transport medium” to boost Camiguin’s testing capacity and ensure that specimens are immediately sent to Cagayan de Oro.

Llacuna said the RT-PCR testing laboratory in Camiguin is just being developed.

“So imagine the delay in the tests. They have to send the samples here (Cagayan de Oro), and then the results would be sent back there,” he said.

Llacuna ordered the regional laboratory for COVID-19 cases to prioritize samples from Camiguin.

“We have to act on this,” Llacuna said.

Over Magnum Radio, Camiguin Governor Jurdin Jesus Romualdo said the provincial capitol has intensified contact-tracing work, and public health frontliners were given instructions to isolate all those who would test positive for COVID-19.

He said Camiguin residents were complacent because the island province had relatively low COVID-19 cases.

“They thought that there was no more COVID. People didn’t wear masks, no face shields,” Romualdo said. –