ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Authorities have confirmed that 32 travelers aboard a passenger vessel that came from Manila and Dumaguete have been isolated in Zamboanga City after rapid antigen test results showed they had COVID-19 Wednesday night, January 12.
They were immediately given RT-PCR confirmatory tests.
The boat, which docked at the Zamboanga Port at 7 pm on Wednesday, had 613 passengers – 245 of them were given rapid antigen tests, following Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco’s Executive Order No. BC 704-1022.
The order also reimposed the RT-PCR requirement for inbound travelers, especially those coming from areas with higher alert level status.
City Health Office (CHO) chief Dr. Dulce Miravite said those who tested positive in the initial rapid tests were given confirmatory RT-PCR tests on Thursday, January 13, in line with the city government’s measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
Of the 613 passengers, 187 were Zamboanga City-bound.
The CHO said 336 others are residents of Jolo, and 13 are traveling to Zamboanga del Norte, 11 to Zamboanga Sibugay, nine to Lamitan in Basilan, and another one to Tawi-Tawi.
Officials said 56 others have unknown addresses.
Jolo-bound passengers were not tested. They were attended to by health workers from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), said the CHO.
Mayor Climaco said city hall had to reimpose stricter measures beginning January 12 in the wake of increasing COVID-19 cases in the country.
“With cases spiking, we will have to revert to safety measures. There was a child who was found positive during the antigen testing,” Climaco said.
She pointed out that Zamboanga City is an entry point for travelers bound for the BARMM, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and the Zamboanga Peninsula region, and even those coming from Sabah.
City Social Welfare and Development Office chief Socorro Rojas said the local government was taking care of the needs of those quarantined. Rojas added the city’s public health front-line workers have also started contact-tracing work. – Rappler.com
Frencie Carreon is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship