Cebu City EOC renews warning on swab test refusal, eyes stricter rules

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | September 06,2020 - 03:02 PM

Cebu City EOC renews warning on swab test refusal, eyes stricter rules

FILE — A woman gets a swab test for the new coronavirus at Santa Ana Hospital in Manila on Tuesday.—RICHARD A. REYES

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Anti-coronavirus officials in Cebu City renewed their warnings directed at individuals, particularly close contacts of confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients, who will refuse to undergo swab tests.

The city’s emergency operations center (EOC) made this announcement after they discovered that at least two close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 patient reportedly refused to cooperate with contact tracers.

Councilor Joel Garganera, in a series of messages sent to reporters on Sunday, September 6, said two fire volunteers hesitated to have their swab samples collected.

Garganera said the volunteers were considered close contacts of a patient from Barangay Cogon-Pardo who tested positive for COVID-19.

Garganera, who also happened to be the deputy chief implementer of the Cebu City counterpart of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID), said those who would not cooperate with health authorities could face legal charges.

“As to the reason for their refusal, we cannot think of any valid reason that we will allow refusal for swabbing. Again, COVID-19 is one of the notifiable diseases covered under RA (Republic Act) 11332 so their non-cooperation is already a violation under the law,” he explained.

Garganera also said they are planning to implement stricter rules if it meant ensuring close contacts of previously COVID-19 patients will be immediately identified and detected for possible infection.

Urgency is very vital in this pandemic. We will not be hesitant to order the immediate arrest of the said individuals. I already coordinated fully to the PNP (Philippine National Police) and barangay authorities,” he said.

“(Refusing to undergo swab test) is a waste of our team’s time, effort, and government resources. We can’t allow that to happen and this will serve as a lesson to those who will refuse to submit themselves to the said protocols,” he added.

A resident from Barangay Cogon Pardo died last August 29 due to other medical reasons but as per protocol, was swabbed. The deceased patient’s test results came out positive of SARS-CoV-2 on September 1, said Garganera.

The fire volunteers who allegedly refused to be tested for COVID-19, the councilor said, assisted in transporting the patient to a nearby hospital days before he passed away.

“As a precaution, they (fire volunteers) were isolated at the barangay. The second time they were asked, they agreed. But when the swabbers arrived at where they were isolated, they refused again,” said Garganera.

“As per our contact tracing team now, they will be swabbed tomorrow (Monday, September 7),” he added.

The city’s EOC reported a total of 56 close contacts of the patient from Barangay Cogon-Pardo, including those who attended the wake.

While the results of their swab tests are still pending, city and barangay officials have placed all of them in a ‘household lockdown’.

Cebu City’s number of active COVID-19 cases, based on data from the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH – 7), has dropped to 335 as of September 5.

The city was also recently downgraded to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) but local officials continue to remind residents not to let their guard down just yet, adding that the virus is still present. /dbs

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TAGS: Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, Cebu City Emergency Operations Center, Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID)

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