Two emergency responders in Cebu City who have been exposed to a COVID-19 case might face arrest after refusing to get swabbed.
This is according to Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, the regional interagency task force chief implementer for the city.
On Sunday, September 6, he told Rappler in a text message that two fire volunteers who were the first responders to a COVID-19 patient had refused swabbing two times after having been identified as close contacts.
The responders transported a patient, not identified as a COVID-19 case at the time, from Barangay Cogon Pardo to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center. The patient died on August 29 and was swabbed as per protocol.
On September 1, the result came out COVID-19 positive.
After being identified as close contacts, the two responders were brought to the barangay isolation center in Cogon Pardo where they were also approached for swabbing. Garganera said the responders initially refused to get swabbed, agreed later on, and then changed their minds when the swabbing team arrived to get their samples.
The responders’ refusal, Garganera said, is in violation of Republic Act (RA) No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.
"As to the reason for their refusal, we cannot think of a valid reason that will allow refusal for swabbing. Again, COVID-19 is one of the notifiable diseases covered under RA 11332 so their non-cooperation is already a violation under the law," he told Rappler.
He said he had ordered the Pardo Police Station chief to arrest the responders should they continue to refuse swabbing.
"The only reason we were able to bring the cases in Cebu City at manageable level is due to the efficiency and urgency of response," said Garganera.
Around 40 other close contacts of the deceased COVID-positive patient in barangays Cogon Pardo, Mabolo, and Pasil have also already been isolated.
According to the Department of Health Central Visayas, Cebu City’s active cases continued to drop to 335 on September 5. Five new cases of COVID-19 were tallied on the same day.
This is far from the 3-digit new cases reported per day back in June when Cebu City was identified as one of the country’s hotspots of the coronavirus disease.