MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, the thousands of Boholano (LSIs) or Locally Stranded Individuals are our brothers and sisters having equal rights as all of us to be here.
Especially in this “war-like” environment, no one wants to be away from home. If one must die -as all of us must- let it be among our loved ones who care for us the most. So, there.
We should have the same ardor of acceptance for these LSIs as we did our beloved OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) with the usual caveats to insulate the greater populace.
There is fear- as there must be- since the jump-off point of the LSIs is the neighboring province of Cebu, unfortunately, a “red flag” with horrific numbers as of May 23 (6 pm) of 2,264 confirmed Covid patient and 1,902 in Cebu City where the seaports will host the vessels to bring in the LSIs here.
Mind you, the number is not peanuts. Those off-Bohol residents registered with the (Offshore Boholanos Coordinating Team) or OBCT total 20,000 – the size of a fair-sized town in Bohol. How do we deal with them if even if just half of them (10,000) descend on us like locusts hunting for prey?
Worse than the horrifying numbers is lowering of the standards of containment compared to the OFWs- degraded from the premium PCR test to a mere Rapid Testing. This was the original plan. Does it make a whale of a difference? You can bet your hat, Watson, it does.
Straight from the horse’s mouth, let us quote the Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergiere: the government is keen on the RT-PCR which is the gold standard test as this can determine the presence of the virus in asymptomatic patients. Real-time RT-PCR is a nuclear-derived method for detecting the presence of *specific genetic material from any pathogen, including a virus.
Comparing to the readily available Rapid Antibody Test which is just a preliminary medical testing procedure that can be performed easily to detect antibodies in the blood or body fluids and cannot detect the Covid virus. It only detects the antibody formed if the person had been infected already which gives a lot of “false negative” thus unreliable”
Therefore, what minimum standards of screening must be imposed on these LSIs coming as they do from notoriously infected Cebu City as a seaport of origin?
We know, for a fact, that the OFWs were monitored by at least two government agencies, the DOH (Department of Health) and the OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Authority) and lends some reasonable though not even complete comfort.
We cannot immediately ascertain- and by the way, cannot discriminate- even if the LSIs come from highly congested environs in Cebu or elsewhere as economics always dictate their place of stay. These are supposedly high-risk environments for contamination.
Of course, the LSIs are to get their local health clearances from where they emanate- is that a reliable gauge? Human nature would prod one to get rid of “pests” that would affect their community -a totally selfish but self-preserving gesture.
And what if after getting their clearances, they still opened themselves to risk by going through the highways and byways of metropolitan Cebu? Will the vessels also be exclusively used for the LSIs coming in here – minimizing possible contamination from others?
We heard from the Capitol that after their arrival here, they will be subjected to swab tests on the fifth day ( of the 14-day quarantine)which of which the specimen will be sent to Cebu for the reliable PCR Test at the government-run Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center.
But because of the overwhelming number of tests done for Cebu residents alone, it is certain that the results for the Bohol- sent swab test cannot come within six or seven days.
But with the timely arrival of the PCR machines to be installed in the modern Gallares Memorial Hospital which we heard will have three combat-ready floors by July- perhaps this will alleviate the load of the Vicente Memorial Hospital in Cebu and get the results quicker? We certainly hope so.
Moreover, the quarantine areas of these LSIs will be manned and supervised by the respective mayors in their respective hometowns. How can we be assured that all the frontliners guarding them at the town’s isolation centers and quarantine facilities are strict with not allowing the LSIs from getting out their areas and not allowing members of their families to visit them?
Again, human nature. We know how the “ikog” system in the towns work wherein the supposedly strict implementation of the dos and dont’s will easily be violated.
The safest, we think, is to have these LSIs screened first with the PCR test in Cebu before allowing them to come home. How is this? The local officials should know better.
As even Dr. Jeff Ong, president of the Bohol Medical Society said that this is the safest way to let these stranded Boholanos come home safe and clean from the virus.
In fact, the medical advisers of the Capitol (we heard) are not in favor to have these LSIs quarantined in their respective towns.
They suggested that they should be in one big complex where all of them (coming by batches) can be monitored and managed just like how the OFWs are being handled. There should be no hurry in letting these stranded Boholanos come home while not everyone is absolutely prepared.
We doubt if all the 47 towns and this capital city have already passed the accreditation of their isolation centers and their quarantine facilities.
Buenavista Mayor Dave Duallo showed his apparently- ready isolation center during the recent visit of the governor last week. How about the remaining 46 towns?
This COVID-19 containment has indeed become both a medical and management monstrosity- a predicament not devoutly to be wished. Are we ready? Half-ready?
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