By Glazyl Y. Masculino and Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – Mayor Evelio Leonardia said on Monday that the city is strengthening its borders, following the detection of the first case of the Omicron variant of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) here and in Western Visayas.
Leonardia said they will still make the necessary precautions, even if the 38-year-old returning overseas Filipino (ROF), who was positive for the Omicron variant based on his genome sequencing result released on Jan 1, 2022, has recovered from the virus.
The ROF underwent his second reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test this week while being quarantined in a hotel, and again tested positive for COVID-19.
But Dr. Rosalie Deocampo, cluster head for contact-tracing of Emergency Operations Center (EOC), said the ROF’s cycle threshold was 36.7, which means that he is less infectious. He will be placed under quarantine for seven more days.
Deocampo added that it is quite normal for those found previously infected to still yield positive result up to 90 days but they are no longer considered infectious.
Because of this development, the mayor said that Bacolodnons need not be alarmed.
“This is apparently not a local case. This is an imported one based on the accounts made by the Department of Health (DOH) and other experts,” Leonardia said, adding that the genome sequencing result of the ROF just came out late.
Leonardia said that while the “imported” Omicron variant-infected ROF is considered cleared, the city government reminded residents to remain vigilant, get vaccinated or booster shots, observe minimum health protocols and should not be complacent in the light of the uptick of COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) that might spill over to the different provinces and regions.
Leonardia also held off any decision to restart the holding of limited face-to-face classes at Alangilan National High School.
The local chief executive also put on hold the decision on the applications by a local college and a local university to begin face-to-face classes of their allied medical courses.
Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran also concurred with the suggestion of Councilor Cindy Tan-Rojas and key EOC members to set aside face-to-face class instructions between 15 to 30 days, because there is a high possibility of resurgence of cases here like in Manila, especially after the holidays.
Prior to his arrival here, the ROF, who is a cruise ship crew member, yielded negative swab test result in Florida, USA on Dec 12, 2021.
The following day, he traveled from Miami to New York, and arrived in Manila on Dec 15, wherein he checked in at an Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)-accredited quarantine facility in Malate.
Two days later, he developed symptoms, specifically sore throat, cough and colds.
On Dec 19, he underwent the mandatory RT-PCR test required on the fifth day after arrival, and he was already symptomatic.
The following day, his RT-PCR test yielded positive result. Four days later, the ROF was transferred to another Malate hotel that serves as an OWWA isolation facility for positive patients.
On Dec 31, he was released by the doctor from isolation at the facility, as he had already fully recovered. Thus, he was then allowed to board his Manila to Bacolod flight and was fetched by his wife at the Bacolod-Silay airport in Silay City, Negros Occidental.
Deocampo said that no RT-PCR test was done on the patient, prior to his release from the isolation facility in Malate.
She said the recovery was based on clinical basis, which means that the ROF was already asymptomatic since Dec 20 to 31 when he was released and was then allowed to board a sweeper flight to Bacolod.
The ROF is from Mindanao, while his wife is from Pampanga, who arrived here on Dec 5, and worked here as a call center agent.
Deocampo said the co-workers of the ROF’s wife should not be alarmed because her last day of reporting was on Dec 29 yet or, two days before she had a contact with her infected husband.
Doctors also noted that the ROF had been asymptomatic from Dec 20, 2021 to Jan 3, 2022.
Meanwhile, EOC executive director Em Ang told Daily Guardian they conducted contact tracing, and subjected the ROF’s wife to swab test which later yielded negative result.
Ang said they are also closely coordinating with the DOH.
Meanwhile, a resident of Hinigaran, Negros Occidental was recently detected by the Monitoring Team to have allegedly presented a fake RT-PCR result at the Bacolod Real Estate Development Corp. (Bredco) Port.
The holder of the fake RT-PCR was not allowed by authorities to board the roll-on, roll-off vessel bound for Iloilo. The spurious paper was discovered after scanning the negative test result indicating that it was issued in August 2021 yet.