June 2, 2023

A Department of Health official supports the move of the local governments to retest and isolate locally stranded individuals and overseas Filipino workers who want to return to their hometowns.

“It is very rational that we repeat the two weeks quarantine of OFWs returning home so that we can be assured that the risk produced by the circumstance is eliminated,” DOH spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during the “Laging Handa” virtual presser facilitated by the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

Vergeire made the statement after Lamut, Ifugao Mayor Mariano Buyagawan raised the concern about OFW returnees who were tested negative for the Covid-19 and were quarantined in Metro Manila by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration but were tested positive up in their return to their hometown.

Buyagawan said this happened in Lamut when two OFWs tested positive upon arriving. They are two of the three cases recorded in the town.

Vergeire said there is a possibility that the person was tested and while waiting for the result, was exposed to a SARS-CoV2 carrier.

Another possibility is exposure during transit or travels back to the provinces, she said.

“That would be the most probable reason kung bakit nag-positibo na po siya ulit diyan pagdating sa area ninyo,” Vergeire said.

Vergeire also clarified the issue of burial practices in the provinces.

“We understand the different cultural practices but the DOH has a protocol which is based on the Sanitation Code that require burying or cremation of the body of a person who died of Covid-19 related reasons be done within 24 hours or 12 hours. This is to ensure that we will not have a public health issue during the wake,” she said.

Buyagawan said Lamut lacks quarantine facilities as they continue to receive OFW returnees.

To address this, he said they are fast-tracking conversion of their trading post beside the tourism village as quarantine area including the agricultural booth used by the 18 villages during special occasions.

Lamut and the whole of Ifugao impose a strict quarantine and border control measure. However, despite the strict quarantine, some manage to sneak past the borders.

The town serves as the gateway to the province via Region 2.

“What they do to enter is via the other entry points using the village. They don’t use the national road where strict border control is being done especially those coming from hotspots,” Buyagawan said. – PNA