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1 of 5 seafarers returning home to Misamis Occidental found with coronavirus antibodies

ILIGAN CITY—One of the five seafarers who arrived at the Ozamiz City port past 9 p.m. on Tuesday (April 28) tested positive for coronavirus before he was brought to a quarantine facility.

The five seafarers, who just arrived from coronavirus hot spot Manila, aboard the St. Michael the Archangel ship were among more than 300 repatriated from their overseas posting when the COVID-19 pandemic started.

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Misamis Occidental Gov. Philip Tan said on his social media page that the seafarer would have to be tested anew to confirm results of rapid tests done on him which showed he had antibodies for coronavirus.

The seafarer is now in isolation “but he is okay,” said Tan. “We hope in the swab test it will be negative,” he said.

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Earlier on Monday (April 27), Tan was criticized for a post saying he wanted seafarers stopped from disembarking from the Archangel because their return to the province had no clearance form him and several local governments—Ozamiz City, Sinacaban, Jimenez and Plaridel.

“We were also not informed of their arrival and if we did not ask to confirm it, we would not have known,” Tan said on his post on April 27.

He had said the provincial government owuld sent money to the seafarers through relatives “to help them survive.”

Tan said the provincial government would allow the repatriation “but through our process for the safety” of the people of the province.

Netizens raged against Tan’s “discriminative” treatment of the seafarers.

The governor had issued an executive order placing Misamis Oriental, including Ozamiz City, under General Community Quarantine (GCQ).

The order required overseas Filipino workers or residents of the province stranded elsewhere to first secure written clearance from the governor, or his representative, prior to returning to the province.

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The clearance, however, would be given only after health offices issued certificates attesting to the repatriate’s health and their completion of quarantine.

Returning OFWs or seafarers would be fetched from the port by officials of his hometown and brought directly to isolation for another 14 days.

Tan, however, changed his decision on Tuesday and allowed seafarers to disembark after heeding health protocol.

The provincial government, he said, would send a medical officer to conduct health checks on the five seafarers before they are sent to quarantine in their hometowns.

Edited by TSB

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