Walking time bombs? 3 COVID-positive seafarers put Butuan City in a quandary

Published July 21, 2021, 6:00 PM

by Zea Capistrano

DAVAO CITY – The city government of Butuan is mulling to file complaints against those responsible for the docking of a vessel from Indonesia at the port of Masao where 12 of 20 crew members tested positive for the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In an interview on Wednesday, July 21, Butuan City Administrator Reynante Desiata told The Manila Bulletin the M/V Claudia was carrying coal and was bound for Albay went it made a side trip at the Masao Port in Barangay Lumbocan on July 14th without proper coordination with the local government.

Upon investigation, Desiata said they found out that three crew members went down the vessel to go to the public market around 9:00 a.m. on July 15th. Two of them tested positive from COVID. Desiata said they have already disinfected the whole Langihan Public Market.

Desiata added that another crew member took a Bachelor Express bus from Butuan to Cagayan de Oro then went to Zamboanga City. He said the Zamboanga-bound crew member also tested positive for COVID-19 and is asymptomatic. He is now in isolation.

He said they were made aware of the incident only on the 16th following the release of the test results of the crew members.

“Natawagan po kami ng Regional Office ng Department of Health na may clustering daw ng cases sa Barangay Lumbocan 16th na (We received a call from the DOH regional office that there was a clustering of cases in Barangay Lumbocan on the 16th already),” he said.

At that time the vessel has already left the port going to Albay.

Desiata added that they immediately coordinated with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to implement a contact tracing after they got the call from the DOH.

He added that one of the three agents of the vessel was from Butuan City and was the one who contacted three swabbers. The three agents and the family of the agent from Butuan City are also under monitoring and will be tested Wednesday, July 21.

Desiata added that the three swabbers who performed the swab tests on the crew members are currently in isolation in the city’s facility. He said the three swabbers were from Agusan del Sur’s biomolecular laboratory and not from Butuan City.

Currently, they are still looking for the tricycle driver who took the three crew members to the public market.

“Ongoing pud ang kapitan karon gituyok ang whole barangay kinsay namasahero atong adlawa (The barangay captain is currently making rounds in the whole barangay to contact the drivers who worked that day),” he said.

The city government said the DOH has also collected and sent five samples of the COVID-19 patients to the Philippine Genome Center for sequencing to know whether the crew members were infected with the foreign variant.