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2 Dumaguete hospitals cry for help as 43 of their staffers isolated after contact with infected councilor

/ 08:12 PM March 13, 2020

DUMAGUETE CITY—Two hospitals here are asking for help from the Department of Health (DOH) after at least 43 staff members went on quarantine after getting into contact with a councilor who tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The local Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit wrote to the DOH-Central Visayas office to send nurses to Silliman University Medical Center (SUMC) and Ace Dumaguete Doctors from the DOH’s Nursing Deployment Program.

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Bimbo Miraflor, Negros Oriental provincial government spokesperson, said the request was being facilitated but “I don’t know if DOH can accommodate considering the number of staffers needed.”

At least 20 nurses of Ace Doctors are on quarantine.

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Only those who had direct contact with the infected councilor had been isolated in the hospital while the others had gone on self-quarantine at home.

At the SUMC, 23 medical staffers, including two resident doctors, had been on quarantine. At least five of them had been in close contact with the infected councilor when they took care of him but wearing protective equipment.

The others were part of the nursing team at the hospital’s intensive care unit which had become an isolation room.

A doctor from Ace Doctors confirmed the shortage of medical staffers in the hospital, saying some nurses were stricken with other illnesses while many others were on quarantine.

Miraflor said some patients of the two hospitals had been transferred to other facilities since their rooms were near the ICU where the councilor stayed and have to be disinfected.

The 64-year-old councilor was first brought to Ace on March 6 but his family insisted he be transferred to the ICU unit of SUMC four days later when his condition deteriorated.

“We are managing the situation,” said Roberto D. Monteban, the highest ranking official of SUMC. He said the hospital was heeding protocol set by the Department of Health and World Health Organization.

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The councilor was labeled as patient No. PH39. He was from Taysan, a town 109 kilometers north of Dumaguete and had gone around Greenhills, a shopping center in San Juan City, Metro Manila. The councilor had attended the national convention of the Philippine Councilors’ League in Manila.

Two COVID-19 carriers had been confirmed to be working in Greenhills.

Miraflor said health workers had been on contact tracing in Taysan which involved a search for at least 155 people who may have had contact with the councilor.

Two persons who had been in contract with him were members of the councilor’s household staff who are now being closely monitored after developing fever, cough and sore throat which are among the symptoms of COVID-19.

Respiratory samples taken from the household staff members had been sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City for tests. Results are expected in up to three days.

Miraflor said the provincial government had been asking for test kits since February when a Chinese couple, the first confirmed COVID-19 carriers in the Philippines, had visited places in the province.

He said the DOH gave assurance that it would provide the province with test kits.

Other councilors who had been in the PCL meeting as the infected official didn’t see the need to submit themselves to tests.

Councilor Manuel “Chaco” Sagarbarria, head of PCL Negros, said March 13 was the 14th day of their last contact with the infected official “so if we have no symptoms, we are on the clear.”

Bais City Councilor Jed Goni agreed. “Fourteen days have lapsed. I hope no one else got contaminated,” he said.

Edited by TSB
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