VIRAL TWIST: New COVID-19 case challenges quarantine, rapid testing

By Emme Rose Santiagudo and Dolly Yasa

The latest coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case recorded in La Castellana, Negros Occidental on Tuesday is being investigated further by the Department of Health-Center for Health Development in Western Visayas (DOH-CHD 6).

The probe will focus on whether or not the patient contracted the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) even after the 14-day quarantine period and the accuracy of the COVID-19 rapid test kit.

In a bulletin issued on Tuesday, DOH-CHD 6 confirmed the new case from La Castellana, Negros Occidental, a 42-year-old male who had exposure to a positive case.

The patient is labelled as WV Patient No. 53 and a close contact of the COVID-19 positive couple from Pavia, Iloilo (WV Patient Nos. 37 and 38).

According to Dr. Renilyn Reyes, spokesperson of DOH-CHD 6, the patient’s close contact with the couple was last March 6, 2020.

“Based sa history niya ang pinakamalapit nga contact sa couple was last March 6. When we say close contacts, sila ini ang may face to face contact with the positive case and ang distance is one meter or less. Ma-consider man nga close contact if there is a least 15 minutes or more engagement with a positive case,” Reyes explained in an online press briefing.

WV Patient No. 53 went home to Bacolod on March 15 and arrived in La Castellana, Negros Occidental on March 16.

The patient underwent home quarantine for 14 days after he was informed that the couple from Pavia, who were his employers, tested positive for COVID-19 on April 8.


Reyes said the patient submitted himself to a facility quarantine on April 11 where his swabs were taken for rapid antibody testing. He tested negative and the next day he was again subjected to another test using the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technique.

“Based sa report sang Provincial Health Office (PHO), ginkuhaan siya sang swabs sang April 11 for rapid testing. The next day his swabs were taken for RT-PCR testing and ang results nag-abot sang April 14. But it was only released by the Western Visayas Medical Center on April 20,” she said.

Due to the recalibration, shift of testing protocols, and parallel testing done by WVMC, Reyes said there was a delay in the release of laboratory results, particularly of WV Patient No. 53.

She explained that the rapid antibody-based testing is only an adjunct tool used by the health department and cannot stand alone to diagnose COVID-19.

“It is an adjunct diagnostic tool. It would not stand alone. That’s why ang gold standard in terms of detecting acute infection particularly COVID-19 is still RT-PCR,” he said.

If the patient’s last close exposure to the confirmed case was last March 6, he was still infected even after completing the prescribed 14-day quarantine.

Authorities have suggested the 14-day quarantine to give way for the incubation of the virus.

Meanwhile, Reyes said they are closely coordinating with the PHO in Negros Occidental to trace the source of infection of WV Patient No. 53.

According to Reyes, it is possible that the patient contracted the virus either in Bacolod or Negros Occidental.

Posible man nga diri sa Iloilo from WV Patient No 37 or posible man ang nakuhaan niya sang infection dira sa Bacolod ukon Negros Occidental. Amo na ginapaimbestiagahan naton sa PHO and Municipal Health Office,” she said.

The patient is asymptomatic and is under a facility-based quarantine.



Meanwhile, the Bacolod City Health Office conducted on Tuesday contact tracing of persons who came in contact with a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patient who slept in the city going home to Barangay Nato in La Castellana, Negros Occidental.

Bacolod City Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, chairperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force against the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19, confirmed to Daily Guardian here that Negros Occidental’s COVID-19 patient No. 2 slept in his parent’s house in a subdivision here before he left for Barangay Nato, La Castellana town where he lives.

But Familiaran said the barangay will not be considered as an “ultra risk” area.

“Wala man nag develop symptoms ang family but lantawon ta ang developments sang tracing,” Familiaran said.

The 42-year-old asymptomatic patient arrived in Bacolod City via RORO last March 14, contrary to earlier reports that he “sneaked into” the province via motorboat in Cauayan town.

He left for Brgy. Nato, La Castellana town the next day.

La Castellana Mayor Rhumyla Nicor Mangilimutan said the patient was already isolated and the barangay was placed under “lockdown.”

Mangilimutan said the patient, who worked as a driver in Iloilo, is currently stable in a quarantine facility.

His wife and child have tested negative for the virus, the mayor said.

On April 5, the patient developed a fever and had LBM but did not consult a doctor.

Mangilimutan further said the patient’s employer tested positive for COVID-19 on April 5 in Iloilo and he was informed of the situation on April 8.

On April 11, the driver informed the La Castellana local government that he was at home and was immediately quarantined at a facility,

His swab specimen was taken on April 12 and results came out Monday afternoon indicating that he is positive for the virus, Mangilimutan said.