Leyte COVID-19 cases alarm DOH

June 15, 2020
Specimen collection
SPECIMEN COLLECTION — Personnel from the Department of Health (DOH) train health workers in Leyte in collecting swab samples in this May 22, 2020 photo. The DOH regional office has raised concern over the local transmission of coronavirus disease in Leyte as the agency reported a significant increase in the number of cases due to the return of displaced workers from Cebu and Metro Manila. (Photo courtesy of DOH)

TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Health (DOH) has raised concerns over the local transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in Leyte as it reported a significant spike in cases due to the return of displaced workers from Cebu and Metro Manila.

In a press statement issued late Sunday, the DOH regional office here concluded that there is a local transmission of the highly-contagious virus in Tacloban City, La Paz, and Hilongos in Leyte province. Some infected persons in these areas have no travel history outside their city or town.

In La Paz town, five local health workers and an ambulance driver were tested positive of Covid-19 after their close contact with an infected person - an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who returned home on May 28. The caretaker of the pension house where the OFW stayed in La Paz town also acquired the virus.

As of Sunday, the town had 12 cases, including two locally stranded individuals and a health worker from here assigned in La Paz town.

Two patients from La Paz and Hilongos towns, who were admitted at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in this city due to Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) also caught the virus.

On Saturday night (June 13), the health department reported 68 new confirmed Covid-19 cases here and in Ormoc City, Tabontabon, La Paz, Pastrana, Bato, Abuyog, and Baybay City, all in Leyte; Catbalogan City and San Sebastian in Samar; Libagon, Southern Leyte; and Mercedes, Eastern Samar.

This was the highest number of cases reported in the region in a single day. This came a day after the health department announced 42 new cases on June 12. Since the pandemic started, the DOH has already documented 200 coronavirus cases in the region.

“This is a signal to all local government units and health workers that they should be ready to implement our planned response measures. Again, I am reminding everyone to practice persona protective measures especially our health workers,” said DOH Regional Director Minerva Molon.

At this stage of localized transmission, Molon emphasized the need to intensify contact tracing, mandatory admission of those who arrived in the region in the community isolation unit, improved hospital preparedness, and enhanced SARI surveillance.

She also assured the capability of the Eastern Visayas Regional Covid-19 Testing Center at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center here to process a possible surge of specimens coming from different provinces of the region.

“This is not the time to be complacent. Always consider yourself and those people around you a carrier. Take an extra precautionary measure at all times,” Molon added.

All the six provinces in Eastern Visayas have Covid-19 cases. The virus is also present in the region’s five out of seven cities.

The cities of Borongan in Eastern Samar and Maasin in Southern Leyte remain Covid-19 free. PNA