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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, May 23, 2020
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168 fishermen quarantined


A total of 168 fishermen from the provinces of Negros Oriental and Cebu are under quarantine at a designated common facility in Dumaguete City following their disembarkation from a fishing vessel in nearby Sibulan town Thursday.

Of the number, 153 are from Negros Oriental and 15 are from several towns in Cebu province, Dr. Liland Estacion, assistant provincial health officer and head of the committee on health of the provincial Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said in a press briefing yesterday.

Upon disembarkation from the Phillip D.R. fishing vessel at a private port in Barangay Looc, Sibulan, the fishermen were first tested for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) using the Rapid Diagnostic Testing (RDT) but all yielded negative results, she said.

For confirmatory purposes, throat swab samples were taken from them for another test, the Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), Estacion said.

The samples were sent immediately to Cebu City for laboratory testing with the results expected within three days at the earliest, she added.

The fishermen arrived on May 17, with a deceased co-worker on board.

Citing safety purposes, the IATF-EID prevented the vessel from docking but was instead asked to drop anchor off Barangay Jilocon in San Jose town, next to Sibulan, while disembarkation procedures were being mapped out earlier this week.

The deceased fisherman, who hailed from Sibulan, was removed from the vessel that day and immediately cremated.

He was one of three fishermen on board the Phillip D.R. who died in that fishing expedition. Two others died while confined at a hospital in Metro Manila.

The Phillip D.R. sailed to Sibulan so its smaller outboard motorboats could ferry the fishermen and their personal belongings to a private wharf in Barangay Looc.

IATF personnel received and documented them and conducted other safety protocols, such as disinfecting of their belongings.

Estacion said that based on the request of the mayors of local government units where these fishermen originate, they were to be quarantined together for the mandatory 14 days at one facility, rather than brought to the different towns and cities for separate quarantine and monitoring.

The quarantine facility in Dumaguete is under tight watch with policemen securing the area, while gates are sealed and restrictions are under place, she said.

The restrictions include non-visitation of relatives, no cooking of meals inside, and only the security guards allowed to receive blankets and other personal stuff intended for the quarantined fishermen.

Food provisions shall be provided and delivered by the LGUs to these fishermen during the quarantine period, Estacion said.

The fishermen from Cebu province were also allowed to be accommodated, as a gesture of “returning a favor” for the more than 400 stranded Negros Oriental residents who were quarantined in Samboan, Cebu last month.

The Phillip D.R. departed Negros Oriental Thursday afternoon bound for Navotas, Metro Manila, Lt. Senior Grade Donna Lizza Duran Ramacho, Philippine Coast Guard-Dumaguete Station commander, said.

The fishing vessel had on board 17 crewmembers and its ship captain, Rexquel Galvez, she said.

It left Negros Oriental sometime in March for a fishing expedition to Palawan before community quarantine was enforced, Ramacho said.*PNA


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