‘Hitchhiker’ from Davao City is 5th COVID-19 case in Cotabato province
COTABATO CITY –– A 19-year-old student who hitched a free ride in an ambulance from Davao City to go home to Mlang, Cotabato province tested positive for COVID-19.
The student, who arrived in Mlang on May 6, is now the 5th COVID-19 patient in the province, according to Dr. Philbert Malaluan, chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for COVID-19.
Malaluan said the student who lived in Davao City’s Maa district, arrived in Mlang as a passenger of an ambulance which just brought a patient from Davao City to Mlang.
“He was not part of the ambulance trip manifest,” Malaluan said. “He did not register nor coordinate with Task Force Sagip for stranded Cotabato residents,” he added, referring to the Task Force Sagip of the provincial government that helped “stranded” Cotabato residents return home.
The Task Force strictly enforced health protocols, including the 14-day quarantine, before the “rescued” residents could finally go home to their families.
But Malaluan said the student did not undergo health protocols in leaving Davao City, where high cases of COVID-19 were noted.
“He also has no 14-day health and quarantine certificate from Davao City, his point of origin,” Malaluan added.
On May 9, he experienced a sore throat and was given antibiotics at the Mlang municipal health office. His sore throat persisted days later, prompting health workers to take his swab tests on May 14. His tests came out positive on May 17.
Malaluan said the patient had a co-morbidity of juvenile diabetes mellitus.
The student was not quarantined at Mlang’s isolation facility but was instead referred to the Cotabato Regional Medical Center (CRMC), the referral hospital for COVID-19 cases in the region.
Malauan said the IATF had started tracing all persons, who may have come in contact with the student.
At home, his brother, mother, and all companions have been quarantined, their swab tests taken to make sure they were not infected with the virus.
All people in the ambulance—the driver, the patient, and an adult companion; as well as the doctor and two nurses, who attended to the patient, will be quarantined and tested, and their contacts traced.
He said the IATF is now coordinating with IATF Davao for contact tracing of people, who may have had a close association with the patient.
“This case is now under investigation and verification for breach of safety and health protocols, including checkpoint protocols,” Malaluan said.
The Soccsksargen region now has 22 confirmed COVID-19 patients, 14 of whom have recovered, while seven remained in isolation centers.
So far, the region recorded only one COVID-19 patient, who had died in March. He was PH600 in Sultan Kudarat.
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