IATF digs deep into local transmission angle of Patient 8, hunts for answers to questions

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BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The local COVID inter-agency task force is probing deep the possibility that the 69-year-old COVID positive patient who died last month could be the first community transmission case here.

One of the possible carriers could be a minor, a grandchild of Patient 8.

As the contact tracing for Patient 8 goes on its second day, IATF chair and Vice-Mayor El Cid Familiaran told DNX he is hoping that the nine persons whom he had close contact with, and the 13 health workers who attended to the patient would test negative.

Otherwise, it would be a “very troubling concern,” Familiaran said as he pointed out that the community where Patient 8 lives is a crowded one with a high population density.

City Hall said today that Patient 8 died three hours after he was rushed to the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital.

The City Hall advisory also said his underlying illness was hypertension and was having diarrhea before he was brought in for treatment.

Familiaran said he went to the house of Patient 8 and saw that the houses of the man and his neighbors were close to each other.

People there also use public artesian wells as water sources but most use bottled water for drinking, he added.

Jose Maria, Vargas, the disaster czar here, said they have already disinfected parts of Sabes, the community where Patient 8 lives.

Sabes is part of Villamonte, one of the biggest villages here with an estimated population of around 37,000 residents.

Sabes is a wide community through which the Carlos Hilado highway, a main thoroughfare cuts across.

Vargas also said a satellite market usually opens by late afternoon beside the highway and people can sometimes be seen clustering when buying wet market and fresh produce.

He said it is up to village officials to regulate the buying by maintaining appropriate distancing.

But the main question now is why Patient 8 caught the virus.

Familiaran said there are a few possibilities. He said of the nine people who have been swabbed for samples and sent to a quarantine facility, four are adults and five are minors.

He added it could be possible that one of the grandchildren could be the infection source.

It could not be determined yet who passed it on to them, Familiaran said.

According to the World Health Organization, local transmission is when the source of the infection is within the reporting location.

Community transmission, meanwhile, is evidenced by the inability to relate confirmed cases through chains of transmission for a large number of cases, or by increasing positive tests through routine screening of sentinel samples.

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