At least 23 individuals, who were identified as close contact of a feared locally-acquired case of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in Koronadal City, have tested negative in rapid and confirmatory reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests.
Dr. Edito Vego, Koronadal City health officer, confirmed on Thursday that four immediate family members and a close friend of the 47-year-old male patient have turned out negative in RT-PCR testing.
Vego said 18 other persons who were traced to have had direct contact with the patient also came out negative in rapid antibody screening.
“This is an encouraging development and we’re hoping that all of them will be cleared eventually,” he said in a radio interview.
Vego said they already completed the contact-tracing activities for the patient, who had no travel history outside Region 12 (Soccsksargen) and was initially considered as a possible case of Covid-19 local transmission.
The patient, a seafarer, returned home from overseas deployment last January, before the spread and declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He came out positive of the disease on August 7 while preparing for his flight to Manila via Davao City after being recalled to return to work.
The Koronadal City health office and Integrated Provincial Health Office of South Cotabato initially traced a total of 555 possible direct contacts of the patient, who was confirmed to have visited several business establishments before manifesting symptoms last August 2.
Of about 400 identified contacts from the city, Vego said they were able to narrow down the list to 18 after a series of assessments.
He said they delisted those who did not have any direct engagement with the patient during his visit to the business establishments, among them a bank, fast-food chain, and shopping mall.
“Most of the (establishments) practiced strict physical distancing and enforced the mandatory wearing of face masks. Our subject also accomplished his transactions in less than 15 minutes so there was lesser close contact,” Vego said, noting that all 23 identified close contacts were still required to complete the 14-day mandatory home quarantine despite the negative test results.
He said anyone who would manifest symptoms of the disease would immediately be pulled out and placed in an isolation facility.
The patient, the 15th Covid-19 case in Koronadal City, remains asymptomatic and under close observation by health personnel, Vego said.
“I just talked to him by cellphone this morning and he is okay. He is in high spirits,” he said. (PNA)