By Marie Tonette Marticio
TACLOBAN City – After confirming its first case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Department of Health in Eastern Visayas (DOH 8) has announced that 23 samples from patients under investigation (PUIs) turned out to be negative after being sent to Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City last Tuesday (March 24).
The VSMMC is now accredited by the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) as a sub-national laboratory for COVID-19 in the Visayas.
The 23 PUIs are now ready for discharge from different hospitals in the region, DOH 8 reported.
They were among the total of 454 PUIs reported in Eastern Visayas as of March 27.
Of this total, 360 remain under observation, 31 were discharged from the hospitals, and 60 were cleared after their 14-day home-isolation.
The update was provided by DOH 8 after an erroneous report that came out in the DOH website which said that four COVID-19 positive cases were confirmed in Eastern Visayas.
According to DOH 8 Information Officer John Paul Roca, the mistake was only due to a system glitch.
DOH Region 8 Director Dr. Minerva Molon said the lone COVID-19 positive patient in the region was a 51-year old female from Northern Samar who had travel history to Japan.
She arrived in Manila on January 2, and went home to Catarman, Northern Samar on March 3 wherein she consulted with a private hospital due to difficulty in breathing, cough, and colds on March 7.
She was referred to the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) in Tacloban City and was admitted to the intensive care unit for observation.
Molon said she was supposed to be discharged today after 15 days of confinement due to initial diagnosis of severe acute respiratory infection (SARI), but the results came from the (RITM) Monday (March 23), which turned out to be positive with COVID-19.
Catarman, Northern Samar Mayor Francisco Rosales Jr. said he already sent personnel from the municipal health office to conduct contact tracing to identify persons who had close contact with the patient.
He added that all of them will be considered persons under monitoring (PUMs), and will be closely observed by local health workers and members of the barangay (village) health emergency response teams.