LOCAL SPREAD CONFIRMED: DOH-6 declares all Guimbal residents as PUMs

The health department has confirmed the local transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Guimbal, Iloilo. (F. A. Angelo)

By Jennifer Rendon and Emme Rose Santiagudo

All residents of Guimbal, a town 33 kilometers from Iloilo City, are now considered persons under monitoring (PUMs) for possible coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection.

The Department of Health-Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD-6) also confirmed localized transmission of the dreaded viral disease in the town.

The town, which is a home to around 33,820 people based on the 2015 census, is the first municipality in the region with confirmed local transmission.

Dr. Marlyn Convocar, DOH-CHD-6 director, on Tuesday met with local government officials of Iloilo province to discuss the town’s situation.

Convocar said the two cases in Guimbal met the definition of local COVID-19 transmission as the source of the infection is within the reporting location.

Ang Guimbal naka-meet sa definition sang local transmission meaning the source of the infection is within the reporting location so ang second case is connected sa aton second patient so na-meet ang qualifications sang local transmission,” she said in an interview after a dialogue with the provincial government and mayors of the municipalities in Iloilo province on Tuesday.

Two of the 22 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the region are from Guimbal.

In the latest bulletin of DOH-CHD 6, the two cases are labelled as Patient No. 2 and Patient No. 18

Patient No. 2 is 65-year-old male from the town of Guimbal who had no travel history but has a relative from Japan. He is admitted in a hospital and is stable, as of Monday.

Meanwhile, Patient No. 18 is 51-year-old female and is a contact of Patient No. 2. She is isolated and is in improved condition.

“Because of that (local transmission), all of the residents should be monitored as PUMs and undergo home quarantine,” Convocar said.

PUMs are persons with travel history to places with confirmed local transmission but are asymptomatic.

The regional director said the move is similar to the declaration of the health department recently that all persons coming from Metro Manila will be declared as PUMs following the confirmation of local transmission.

All residents of Guimbal were told to observe the 14-day home quarantine.

Dr. Renilyn Reyes, head of the Public Health Program Development of DOH-CHD-6, said there is a high risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the town of Guimbal.

“Interrelated ang kaso maskin duha lang kabilog. Wala kita kabalo basi may iban pa dira kay nagapati kita na sa sulod sang Guimbal dako ang risgo nga makatransmit ang Covid-19 infection,” Reyes said in the dialogue.

Reyes said if a resident of Guimbal manifests symptoms of respiratory illness, they could be classified as persons under investigation (PUIs).

PUIs are individuals who travelled to places with cases of COVID-19 or were exposed to a positive case and manifested signs and symptoms of the disease.

With Guimbal recording two COVID-19 positive cases, there is a risk that the virus infection would be transmitted in the community.

Apart from home quarantine, the DOH also urged the public to strictly observe social distancing and proper hygiene.

The health department said it is up to local officials if they will place Guimbal under lockdown.

“It is beyond our power to declare so ang provincial and local government na ang bahala kon ano ila steps ang pagaubrahon,” Convocar said.

Convocar also urged local chief executives of the different municipalities and city to have a facility to house their PUIs and PUMs to easily monitor them.



Dr. Jay Dorin, Guimbal Municipal Health Officer, confirmed that the second COVID-19 patient from Guimbal is asymptomatic.

“She has no history of travel also but was tested because she is considered as a high-risk contact,” Dorin said.

The 51-year-old woman was exposed to the 65-year old COVID-19 positive man, the first case in Iloilo province and the second in Western Visayas, being their house helper.

The man could have been infected after her three sisters and a nephew travelled to Japan late February.

The man’s wife tested negative for the virus.

Aside from the househelp, also tested were the man’s two sisters, a brother, and his nephew.

Dorin said he is not privy to the result of their tests.  But he noted that none of the 71 persons whom the 65-year-old man came into contact with had symptoms related to COVID-19.

Dorin said he and the 31 other Rural Health workers of Guimbal are deemed as working PUMs.

“We have no choice but to work. None of us have any symptoms of the virus infection,” he said.



Vice Mayor Jennifer Garin-Colada of Guimbal said that the town is not on lockdown but on enhanced community quarantine.

Kun lockdown, indi ka na gid ka guwa sa inyo panimalay and the government will provide for your basic needs. In this case, the residents could not go out of Guimbal,” Colada said, as she likened it to an extreme enhanced community quarantine.

Colada said the declaration of all Guimbal residents as PUMs would mean an extension of their quarantine.

“It’s because for the past 14 days, we considered ourselves as PUMs. We ended our quarantine last March 27,” she said.

The new declaration would mean that they would again be monitored for the next 14 days, starting Tuesday.

But Colada said they’re still waiting for the official document relative to the declaration.

“We, at the LGU, do our job based on executive orders and other memorandum sent to us,” she said.

Colada said they need a document for the guidelines and protocols for the declaration.

“Like what’s the basis and what she would we do. We need an official statement coming from the authorities,” she said.

As this developed, Colada said they were able to provide more than 3,000 food packs to residents.

But another wave of distribution would be done to the rest of the more or less 8,000 households in Guimbal.