PHO head, 2 doctors on quarantine

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Three doctors of the Provincial Health Office, including its head, Dr. Ernell Tumimbang, are under quarantine after they were found reactive in the Rapid Antigen Test Thursday as part of the regular assessment for health workers.

Tumimbang said one of the doctors initially showed flu symptoms, and those traced as close contacts underwent RAT Jan. 31.

The results showed that two other doctors and three PHO staff members were RAT-reactive.

Tumimbang said he can go back to work since he had no more symptoms after five days but he opted to complete the seven-day quarantine period to make sure that he is fully healed.

The PHO is open and continues to dispose of anti-COVID vaccines to local government units since there are offices that are separated so the personnel were not exposed to the doctors and workers found RAT reactive.

Tumimbang also said that seven Negrenses were found infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease 2019. But he said the PHO cannot determine yet if the reason for the spike of cases last month was due to the local transmission of Omicron.

He said the PHO sent Monday another batch of swab samples taken from patients in a clustered area to the Philippine Genome Center for sequencing. If some of them will be found Omicron positive, then that’s the time that the PHO can say that there is local transmission of the highly-contagious variant in Negros Occidental, he added.

The seven Negrenses had fully recovered before the results from the PGC arrived Feb. 1. The samples were taken several days before these were sent for sequencing Jan. 18, so there is no longer a need to re-swab them, Tumimbang said.

On Tuesday, the Bacolod Emergency Operations Center was also informed about the 21 patients found infected with the Omicron variant.

EOC deputy executive director, Dr. Chris Sorongon, said these patients have fully recovered before the PGC sequencing results were released, so they will no longer undergo another swab test. But their health condition and that of their close contacts will be monitored, he added.

Sorongon said that with the number of confirmed cases in the different barangays of Bacolod, there is a high probability that the spike of cases last month was because of the local transmission of the Omicron variant. — MML