The alarming spike of coronavirus positive cases from 13 to 16 patients couple of weeks ago were attributed to returnee-LSIs and ROFs and, as expected, this brought home anxieties and worries from residents in barangays where the positive patients reside.

             So far as of writing, only the municipalities of Pandan and Viga (east), if data-wise and memory serves me right, have no cases of LSIs or ROFs who tested positive. Let’s hope and pray these two northern municipalities would not be part of statistics.    

            Remained unanswered last week due to space and time constraints, the question as to whether there’s already local transmission would be discussed and settled today. The question raised above came from a print and broadcast journalist-cum- layman’s point of view.

            Fortunately, here comes the clarification from health authorities. There is no local transmission of the dreadful, unseen, and vicious coronavirus disease in Catanduanes under the exiting guidelines, the province’s top health official said almost one month ago.

            In  an emergency meeting of the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force last July,  Provincial Health Officer II Dr. Hazel Palmes clarified that the two cases in Calatagan, Virac where Bicol # 245 apparently infected a fellow occupant at the same boarding house does not fit the current criteria or definition of local transmission.

            Dr. Palmes said that under the DOH definition, a local transmission has occurred when two or more cases of Covid-19 is recorded in adjoining areas, whether these be a group of houses or quarantine facilities within 14 days.

            Two cases were mentioned, to wit: “On July 17, Patient # 245, who arrived from Silang, Cavite City on the same day, July 5, 2020, along with Patient #229, tested positive on July 17.

            Four days later, a fellow occupant at the same boarding house where Patient #245 was staying also tested positive. The two shared the same house in Calatagan, Virac so it cannot confirmed as local, Dr. Palmes explained.

            On the one hand, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined COVID-19 it this way:

  • Imported cases, where all cases have been acquired outside the reporting location;
  • Local Transmission, where the source of infection is within the reporting location; and
  • Community Transmission, where there is an inability to relate confirmed cases, or by increasing positive tests through routine screening of sentinel samples.

             Defined on Philippine context or milleu, DOH said local transmission occurs when an infected person has no history of travel and has no contact with a COVID-19 positive patient. In other words, according to one local transmission happens only when a resident with no travel history infects another local resident with no travel history.

             Well, if there’s no local transmission so far in Catanduanes, so be it. However, let’s take a serious look on this brewing health problem with Virac as the focal point. God forbid!  

              Last July 25, the number of active cases in Catanduanes rose to nine, with the addition of Bicol #340,  36-year old man from Cavinitan, Virac who arrived from Abu Dhabi on July 1 and stayed at a condo hotel in Pasay City.

              On July 5, he rode a bus chartered by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for Tabaco City and boarded the 7 A.M. ferry trip to San Andres town the next day. Accordingly, he was brought to CNHS quarantine facility where he was in the same room with fellow OFW from Palta Small, Virac, a 28-year old man who arrived on July 1 in Manila from Dubai where he worked as a waiter.

               DOH contact tracing documentation source said the former waiter had arrived a day earlier on July 5 on the same ferry trip where #229 and #245 were passengers. And here goes the rub once again:

               “Sources at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) revealed that a check of the CCTV footage on the ferry on that trip showed that #245 roamed around the passenger deck, coming in close contact with #229 and #299.     

               On July 20, the Cavinitan OFW completed his 14-day quarantine and was released from the CNHS facility for another 7-day quarantine at home. The next day, the Palta Small was swbbed test, with the positive result announced on July 22. He became Bicol #299 and Catanduanes 15th confirmed COVID-19 case.

              Unfortunately, last  Saturday night, his companion at the CNHS quarantine facility tested positive and became #340 and the island’s  16th case. And here’s the latest bad news. An allegedly 21-year old male LSI from Dariao, Caramoran, Catanduanes tested positive in a swab test.

              Susmaryosep! It’s crystal clear, Ka-Peryodiko! With or without official DOH-IATF local transmission confirmation, meron nang transmission of that “pesteng yawa” coronavirus in Islang Kayganda. Merong nanghahawa o nagkakawaan na.  Period.