Why COVID-19 patient was allowed to travel to Iloilo City from Metro Manila

Joyce Ann Clavecillas, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 24 2020 01:47 AM

ILOILO CITY - The seventh COVID-19 case in Iloilo City has caught the attention of the city's community after Mayor Jerry Treñas revealed that the patient went home over the weekend from Metro Manila onboard a private chopper. 

The woman reportedly went home after her mother passed away. Upon arrival, she underwent a rapid COVID-19 test which turned out to be positive. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing she underwent before yielded a positive result as well.

In a statement on social media, Treñas explained the patient was allowed to go home from Metro Manila because her flight to Iloilo can carry COVID-19 test kits, which the city needed.

"The said patient arrived over the weekend via private chopper from Metro Manila. At first, together with the COVID task force we did not agree, but when we knew that we needed RCA extraction kits, we asked the person if she can carry the extraction kits needed in the laboratory of WVMC (Western Visayas Medical Center) in the flight she personally arranged since a charter flight will cost us so much," Treñas said.

"So together with the COVID Taskforce, we agreed. Upon arrival at the airport, we did a rapid test. The patient was immediately isolated followed by a PCR test," he said.

The said patient reportedly is a daughter of a city official, thus raising questions from Ilonggo netizens.

"Allegations made on social media platforms about exempting others in the protocol are completely false in every respect. However, this incident has taught us to be more vigilant, as some of our personnel carrying essential goods and equipment may be infected by the virus," said Treñas.

Previously, he had been very critical on the issue of allowing stranded Ilonggos from Cebu and Metro Manila to come home in the city. 

Treñas had said he will only allow stranded Ilonggos to come home provided that they will undergo quarantine and COVID-19 tests from the place where they come from.

The patient is currently in home quarantine as she is asymptomatic, according to him. 

Treñas said that stranded Ilonggos outside Iloilo City may have their COVID-19 tests in the city once they arrive. But he cited problems.

“The problem is there might have no available tests in their area. Second, the [Department of Health] has certain requirements -- if you are asymptomatic, you will not undergo testing," he said.

Tests shall be done in the city, provided that there are enough test kits to accommodate all of them, the mayor said. 

For those who will be positive, they will be isolated in the city's quarantine facility.