By Ivy Tejano
MATI CITY – A sick Russian seaman, who was onboard a cargo ship that was on its way to Australia before it dropped anchor in the waters off this city, was successfully transported by plane to Manila by a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) medical team from the Mati Incident Management Team (IMT) Tuesday, April 7.
IMT commander Dr. Ben Hur Catbagan said the 33-year old Russian was reported to be running high fever, and has had wet cough for the past four days when examined by a physician while the ship was sailing along Luzon channel.
Catbagan said the IMT received the request for a medical evacuation of the Russian to Manila last Sunday, April 5. He added that an Asphalt Transporter arrived at the Port of Mati on April 7, with the Russian being transferred immediately to a waiting plane.
“The IMT COVID-19 team readily prepared for the evacuation and assigned a team to transport the Russian national to a waiting plane at Mati Airport that will fly directly to Metro Manila,” Catbagan said.
He said that the rescue was initiated by Dr. Wilson Lim of the Bureau of Quarantine, and with the help of the Philippine Coast Guard, initiated the evacuation procedures.
“The ship moored at the entrance of Pujada Bay. The Russian national was fetched by the Coast Guard speedboat and transported to the waiting ambulance at the Mati wharf. Considering the patient’s condition, the medical team treated the case as possible coronavirus case,” Catbagan said.
He also said members of the medical team wore personal protective equipment (PPE) while handling the patient from the ship all the way to the plane. He added that immediately after the successful medical evacuation, disinfection of their personnel, equipment, and vehicle were made.
The IMT head also clarified that they could not deny the request for the medical evacuation since Mati City was the nearest port with an airstrip when a decision for evacuation was reached. He said a good Samaritan act could go a long way.
Catbagan, meanwhile, assured the Matinians that there was nothing to worry since the Russian patient was not a confirmed COVID-19 patient, and that his team had taken all the necessary precautions.