MANILA (UPDATE) - The northernmost province of Batanes reported Tuesday its first case of COVID-19 since the coronavirus pandemic started early this year.
“Makalipas ang ilang buwan bilang COVID-free ang province, as of Sept. 29 naitala natin ang kauna-unahang kaso ng COVID positive dito sa aming probinsiya,” said Gov. Marilou Cayco.
(As of Sept. 29, we reported our very first COVID positive case in the province after several months of being COVID-free.)
A 29-year-old resident who returned to the province on Sep. 22 tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday, the local government said in its official Facebook page.
He has travel history in a quarantine facility at Santa Rosa, Laguna.
The patient is asymptomatic and currently under isolation at the quarantine facility in Basco, Batanes.
The patient is now in isolation in a resort in Batanes, with frontliners monitoring his condition.
Cayco said the patient is part of a group of 19 stranded residents who returned to the province on board a Philippine Air Force plane.
“May coordination naman sa amin yung Presidential Management Staff. Lahat yung na swab test, negative naman sila, isa lang nagpositive,” she said.
(The Presidential Management Staff coordinated the group’s arrival with us. All of them were swabbed, and only one turned out to be positive.)
Fr. Zenky Manabat, Rector of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Basco said the group was immediately brought to a quarantine facility upon arrival.
“Wala naman siyang contact with any local na nakatira dito sapagkat ang patakaran upon arrival from the port of entry dederecho sila sa quarantine facility na inihanda ng local government,” said Manabat.
(He did not have close contact with any local because as per protocol, upon their arrival from the port of entry they were brought straight to a quarantine facility prepared by the local government.)
The governor said they will charter a flight to the bring the specimen to the Department of Health in Tuguegarao for testing as they do not have their own testing center.
All the close contact of the COVID-positive resident are now under quarantine and strictly being monitored.
Batanes is now under a modified general community quarantine. But they will recommend to place the province under a 2-week GCQ beginning Sept. 30 to prevent the virus from spreading.
“Ang sabi ng health cluster namin critical is 2 weeks para mapigilan. Airport sarado muna,” she said.
(We were told by our health cluster that the first 2 weeks is critical. Our airport will temporarily close.)
Outpost checkpoints will also be put up in all municipalities to monitor the movement of people.
Known for its scenic spots, Batanes may have to postpone the reopening of its tourism industry with this recent development, the governor said.
“Maantala siguro kasi syempre kailangang ingatan namin itong 20,000 population dito sa Batanes. Maantala pagbubukas namin siguro dahil dito sa nangyari,” she said.
(We may have to postpone the reopening [our tourism industry]. We have to secure first the 20,000 population in Batanes.)
The local government reminds residents to observe minimum public health standards such as wearing of face masks and face shields, physical distancing and practice proper hygiene.
The Philippines as of Monday recorded 307,288 cases of COVID-19, with 252,665 recoveries and 5,381 deaths.