Zambales confirms 1st COVID-19 case

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OLONGAPO CITY – The Zambales Provincial Health Office has confirmed the first novel coronavirus (COVID-19) case in the province.

In a statement, Provincial Health Officer Noel C. Bueno, Zambales Provincial Health Officer II, identified the patient as a 73-year old male. The patient, a US citizen residing at San Gregorio, San Antonio, Zambales, traveled from Cavite to Manila and returned to Zambales last March 15.

The patient has since developed a fever and diarrhea a day after his arrival from Manila.

Bueno said the patient went to Our Lady of Lourdes International Medical Center here but due to unavailability of rooms he was referred to the President Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Hospital.

Bueno said the patient was immediately tested for COVID-19. The result which came out on March 26 came out positive.

The patient is currently in stable condition and  being monitored at home.

Bueno said they are currently conducting contact tracing and samples will be collected from those who had close contact with the patient.

He encouraged “everyone to strictly comply with social distancing, personal hygiene, cough etiquette and isolation.

Indignant Pampanga residents have called on President Rodrigo Duterte to temporarily close the Clark International Airport to prevent the spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19.

The Luzon International Premier Airport Development Corporation earlier said it will stop all domestic airlines with flights to Clark starting March 20. Long-haul airlines such as Qatar Airways and Emirates, however, continue to operate at Clark airport.

Passengers from COVID-19 affected countries also continue to ingress via the Clark airport. Some 200 OFWs from COVID-19 affected countries have arrived four days ago and reportedly assisted by the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) to the Dau Bus Terminal which is apparently shut down.

Some of the stranded OFWs temporarily housed inside Clark allegedly have fever and should be immediately quarantine.

Last week, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has decided to allow international flights to proceed, according to the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Also last week, all Luzon airports were given a 72-hour window wherein foreigners will be allowed to leave the country. But, the Task Force, lifted the closure of Luzon airports just days before its effectivity allowing all nationalities except for Filipino tourists to fly out of the country anytime.

As international flights continued, the number of stranded OFWs at Clark airport continue to increase which prompted the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC), the Clark Development Corp. (CDC) and Lipad Corp. to provide accommodations for them.

The stranded OFWs were also given the basic needs while awaiting for the lifting of lockdowns all over the country.

OFWs bound for Northern Luzon are being motored upon arrival at Clark airport to the Dau in Mabalacat City where relatives will pick them up.

The Clark International Airport earlier announced it will remain operational to service inbound and outbound international flights throughout the duration of the Enhanced Community Quarantine.

“Following the announcement made by the Philippine Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the amendments and/or modifications to the Guidelines for the Community Quarantine over the Entire Luzon and Management of the coronavirus disease situation, CRK will remain operational to service inbound and outbound international flights throughout the duration of the quarantine period, subject to a number of implementing guidelines,”  according to LIPAD spokeswoman Teri Flores said.

Only OFWs, balikbayans and foreign nationals will be allowed to leave the Philippines at any time. Filipino citizens leaving for tourism purposes will not be allowed to depart.

Inbound international passengers shall be allowed entry, subject to strict immigration and quarantine protocols.