Western Visayas worker recovers from Omicron but gets infected again
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines — A male cruise ship worker, who was considered clinically recovered from the highly contagious Omicron variant upon his arrival in this city on Dec. 31, 2021, was retested and found positive for COVID-19 again on Jan. 3.
The returning overseas Filipino, who was not identified by health authorities, was the first Omicron case in Western Visayas.
Dr. Rosalie Deocampo, cluster head for contact tracing of the Emergency Operations Center-Task Force (EOC-TF), said the man’s positive test result had a cycle threshold of 36.7, which means that he was less infectious.
“It is quite normal for those found previously infected to still yield positive results up to 90 days after, but are no longer considered infectious,” she said.
The patient’s wife tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday night, Deocampo said.
The 38-year-old and his wife were isolated and tested as soon as the city government was informed by the Philippine Genome Center on Jan. 1 that he was infected with the Omicron variant.
“There is no cause for alarm. He is not considered infectious,” said EOC-TF executive director Em Ang.
The man visited his wife, a native of Pampanga, who works for a call center company in Bacolod.
He was picked up at Bacolod-Silay Airport by his wife on his arrival and they checked in at a Bacolod hotel.
Negative swab test
Before returning home to the Philippines from Florida in the United States on Dec. 12, the man underwent a swab test that yielded a negative result.
The following day, he traveled from Miami to New York where he took his 15-hour flight to Manila.
He arrived in Manila on Dec. 15 and checked in at the Century Park Hotel in Malate, an accredited quarantine facility of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa).
Two days later, he developed a sore throat, cough, and colds.
He underwent the mandatory swab test on the fifth day after his arrival and was found positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 20.
He was transferred to another Malate hotel that serves as an Owwa isolation facility for COVID-19 positive patients on Dec. 24. On Dec. 31, he was released from isolation by the doctor at the facility who said he had already fully recovered.
Asymptomatic at exit
Deocampo said there was no swab test conducted prior to the man’s release from the Malate isolation facility.
“Recovery was based on clinical basis, meaning he was already asymptomatic from Dec. 20 to 31 when he was released and allowed to take a sweeper flight for Bacolod,” she said.
On Dec. 31, 2021, the man was considered clinically recovered on his arrival in Bacolod.
The EOC-TF contact-tracing cluster indicated that the man’s wife had reserved a room at Check Inn Hotel from Dec. 5 to Jan. 5.
“Her coworkers at the business process outsourcing company should not be alarmed because the last day she reported for work was on Dec. 29, two days before she had contact with her infected husband,” Deocampo said.
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