Covid-19 relapse in Negros?

By Modesto P. Sa-onoy

People got alarmed by the report that a man from La Castellana was found positive with the virus and another in E.B. Magalona was suspected of carrying the disease.

The confirmed positive case in the province, a 41-year-old female from E.B. Magalona town had tested positive on March 28 but was later discharged after being cleared on her second and third swab test.

La Castellana immediately placed him in an isolation facility and Barangay Nato where this man lived was immediately locked down. La Castellana also closed its borders as did the neighboring towns of Magallon and La Carlota. As of this writing I have no news about the action of Pontevedra, but I believe the town also moved quickly. This is the modus operandi whenever a case is reported.

La Castellana Mayor Nicor-Manguilimutan said the patient and his family were already isolated since April 11.

The seven residents of Estefania with whom this patient had contacted did not show any symptom of the virus but were quarantined immediately, according to Bacolod Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran and that he had advised the Barangay Estefania chairman to provide them face masks and require them to undergo home quarantine and swab test.

The La Castellana case jolted people in Occidental Negros because for weeks report had been good – we are free of this virus and in fact, Governor Eugenio Lacson has started the first steps to ease the quarantine. When the report of a case in La Castellana came out the first thing that  flashed in the mind was the possibility of the province having a relapse and that the governor will be forced to repeal his earlier instruction to allow certain activities to proceed.

As of this writing it seems that our fears had been relieved although nothing is yet final because the tracking and the testing are yet being done. The fear of the province having a relapse appears slim although nothing can be considered certain.

The immediate reporting of that Barangay Nato patient and the quick response of Mayor Maguilimutan and Vice Mayor Familiaran shows that the best approach to this virus is vigilance not only of our government officials but also of the residents. The border towns of La Castellana were also fast in order to contain the suspected virus to its origin. We hope that the patient recovers soon, and the 117 test results being awaited in Bacolod turn out negative.

The deplorable side in the latest report is that Western Visayas records the highest number of violators of the Enhanced Community Quarantine with 5,081 violators, according to the police.

Bacolod officialdom is always quick in publishing whenever the city or its officials are at the top, but this time, there is silence. The police say that in Western Visayas, Bacolod is at the top of ECQ violators from March 17 to April 20 with the province following as second. Considering the ratio of population to violators, the province trails far behind Bacolod.

Police Brigadier General Rene Pamuspusan, WV regional police director has reason to be “alarmed by the continuing increase in the number of ECQ violators” but on the other hand, he should be lauded that his policemen were alert and did their jobs. It would have been easy to get the numbers down but simply looking the other way. But his men were probably more vigilant and thorough.

The task of getting people unnecessarily getting out of the house and to the streets should be a primary responsibility of the barangays. I do not know if they have adopted the ronda system, but I have not heard one. In fact, the police have now abandoned the old practice of foot patrols because they prefer to ride than walk. They probably do not want to be called as “flat feet” as in old days.

From the television footages we see the clustering of policemen, traffic enforcers and tanods in the check points, far beyond the need as it was in February and early March. This is probably the reason that some could sneak out as the streets are clear of people as swell as of policemen and tanods.

Maybe the people of Bacolod and the province are more daring or obstinate than those in Panay. No matter, this police report of ECQ violations maybe not be daring, but a need.