Misamis Oriental capitol dep't shut down after exec infects staff with COVID-19

Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano closed down an entire department at the provincial capitol on Monday, April 5, after its head infected 6 of his 9 staff with COVID-19.

The department head was brought to a quarantine facility of the state-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) in Cagayan de Oro after he tested positive for COVID-19, said lawyer Jeffrey Saclot, spokesperson of the province's COVID-19 inter-agency task force.

He has comorbidities, and had just returned for work last week, after undergoing angioplasty and a recuperation period in Manila where he presumably caught the virus.

Saclot said the official infected 6 of his 9 staff members, and the remaining 3, who tested negative for COVID-19, are scheduled to be swabbed for the second time. 

A non-capitol worker from another office in the provincial government's compound tested positive, too. Saclot said the department head attended a meeting of capitol employees there.

Emano ordered all the staff members to go on quarantine, their office temporarily shut down for disinfection, and the Provincial Health Office to start contact tracing in the capitol. The department's work load will be absorbed by the capitol's administrative office during the quarantine period.

Saclot said the official might have breached health protocols set by the capitol, and even a rule of the Cagayan de Oro city government, by not immediately informing health authorities about his symptoms and his return from travel. He is a resident of one of the city's eastern villages.

"Our rule in the capitol is, once you manifest symptoms of COVID-19 infection, you don't report for work, and you need to inform the Provincial Health Office immediately. He did not even inform the BHERT (Barangay Health, Emergency, and Response Team) in his village," Saclot said.

He said Cagayan de Oro's health officials were the ones who brought the matter to the attention of the provincial health officer, Dr Jerie Calingasan.

If he survives COVID-19, the infected official will face the prospects of administrative sanction. Emano has issued a show-cause order against him and several others over the alleged breach of the capitol's health protocols. – Rappler.com