By Warren Elijah E. Valdez
DAVAO CITY – The Department of Health in Region 11 (DOH 11) has urged the co-passengers of a 21-year-old woman, who tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) after arriving from a return trip from the United Kingdom, to go the nearest health center near them and have themselves checked.
In an press interview Monday, DOH 11 Medical Officer for Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Cleofe Tabada said the COVID-positive patient, identified only as PH130, travelled from UK on February 28, had a layover in Doha, Qatar, arrived in Manila on February 29, and immediately took a Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight to Davao City on the same day.
“If you were on board the same flight with the patient last February 29 going to Davao at 12:30 (p.m.), if you were on board, please inform the nearest health center,” Tabada said.
She added that there are operation centers which are open 24/7 that they can contact to inform the health authorities, who will, in turn, tell them what to do.
“What you should do is you should call us for you to know what to do and for us to be able to help you. Because you will not present yourself or you will not inform us, we cannot help you. And it is a possiblity that you may have (a) virus or later on, (you) will manifest mild (symptoms), and then we cannot help you because you never let us know,” Tabada said.
Tabada said health personnel have already started the contact tracing on the patient positive for COVID-19 on the persons and places she recently made contact with.
“We started from the family and those she was with from the time she arrived since February 29 until she was admitted to the hospital. So it’s almost 10 days,” she said.
“We have asked from the airlines. Actually, the Bureau of Quarantine requested for this. They have requested for the list of passengers of the plane she boarded coming here. We are just waiting for it,” she said.
According to the medical official, the DOH has a standard protocol to be followed in contact tracing which is based on the distance the patient from other passengers on board the plane.
“The standard protocol is four persons seated in front of her, four persons seated on the back seat next to her, and four persons seated beside here,” Tabada said.
However, she said, they also need to ask the patient if she had a friend, who may have sat in another seat during the flight, but with whom she may have had contact with before or after the flight.
“That is one of the things we are considering but the first standard protocol is those individuals seating directly beside her,” she said.
Tabada said there were two individuals who have already reached out to them, informing them that they were with the patient inside the plane, but they did not manifest any symptoms.