FISHERMEN QUARANTINED. A total of 168 fishermen from Negros Oriental and Cebu provinces are now quarantined at a common facility in Dumaguete City. They went to a fishing expedition in Palawan on May 17 and were subjected to testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) after they disembarked in Sibulan town on Thursday (May 21, 2020). (Photo by Juancho Gallarde)
DUMAGUETE CITY – A total of 168 fishermen from the provinces of Negros Oriental and Cebu are now under quarantine at a designated common facility here following their disembarkation from a fishing vessel on Thursday in nearby Sibulan town.
Of the number, 153 are from Negros Oriental and 15 are from several towns in Cebu province, said Dr. Liland Estacion, Assistant Provincial Health Officer and head of the committee on health of the provincial Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), during a press briefing on Friday.
Upon disembarkation from the fishing vessel, Phillip D.R. at a private port in Barangay Looc, Sibulan, the fishermen were first tested for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) using the Rapid Diagnostic Testing (RDT) but all yielded negative results, she said.
For confirmatory purposes, throat swab samples were taken from them for another test, the Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), Estacion said.
The samples were sent immediately to Cebu City for laboratory testing with the results expected within three days at the earliest, she added.
The fishermen arrived here on board the Phillip D.R. on May 17, with a deceased co-worker on board.
Citing safety purposes, the IATF-EID prevented the vessel from docking but was instead asked to drop anchor off Barangay Jilocon in San Jose town, next to Sibulan, while disembarkation procedures were being mapped out earlier this week.
The deceased fisherman, who hailed from Sibulan, was removed from the vessel that day and immediately cremated.
He was one of three fishermen on board the Phillip D.R. who died in that fishing expedition. Two others died while confined at a hospital in Metro Manila.
During the disembarkation procedures, the Phillip D.R. sailed to Sibulan so its smaller outboard motorboats could ferry the fishermen and their personal belongings to a private wharf in Barangay Looc.
While there, IATF personnel were on hand to receive and document them and conduct other safety protocols such as disinfecting of their belongings.
Estacion said that based on the request of the mayors from the local government units where these fishermen originate, they were to be quarantined together for the mandatory 14 days at one facility, rather than brought to the different towns and cities for separate quarantine and monitoring.
The quarantine facility here is under tight watch with policemen securing the area, while gates are sealed and restrictions are under place, she said.
The restrictions include non-visitation of relatives, no cooking of meals inside, and only the security guards allowed to receive blankets and other personal stuff intended for the quarantined fishermen.
Food provisions shall be provided and delivered by the LGUs to these fishermen during the quarantine period, Estacion said.
The fishermen who are from the towns in nearby Cebu province were also allowed to be accommodated here, as a gesture of “returning a favor” for the more than 400 stranded Negros Oriental residents who were quarantined in Samboan, Cebu last month.
Meanwhile, the Phillip D.R. departed Negros Oriental on Thursday afternoon bound for Navotas, Metro Manila, said Lt. Senior Grade Donna Lizza Duran Ramacho, Philippine Coast Guard-Dumaguete Station commander.
The fishing vessel had on board 17 crewmembers and its ship captain, Rexquel Galvez, she said.
It left Negros Oriental sometime in March for a fishing expedition to Palawan before a community quarantine was enforced here, Ramacho said. (With a report from Judaline Partlow/PNA)
Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency