BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – A scramble for masks, online speculations and offline scares marked Day 1 here and in neighboring cities after the health department confirmed the presence of Patient One who tested positive for the 2019 N coronavirus in the country.
“I had a hard time looking for an N95 mask,” Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran told DNX but added he found one in a private hospital’s pharmacy hours after Health Sec. Francisco Duque III made the announcement in a news conference streamed live on Facebook.
With the city only six hours away by land from Dumaguete City, some residents here appeared to be on the edge late yesterday after Duque’s announcement.
Patient One, Duque said, is a 38-year-old woman from Wuhan, China who arrived in the Philippines and had traveled to Dumaguete and Cebu.
Cebu is accessible from Negros island through several points in the Occidental like San Carlos and Cadiz cities, and Dumaguete in the Oriental.
Minutes after the news broke, Ronald Ian Evidente went to a drugstore to buy an N95 mask.
A saleslady told him they had run out of stock, only ordinary surgical masks were available. He checked three more and was told the same.
“No more stock.”
What was puzzling, he said, was that “I noticed only a few people were asking for masks.”
In Talisay City, Agnes Lira Jundos saw people scamper for face masks as the news spread.
The news spread to the grapevine as some folks said the 38-year-old woman was confined in a hospital in Dumaguete City.
A sense of panic loomed.
Meanwhile, on Facebook, the “news” spread through Facebook’s private messaging that Bacolod had its first nCov case at the Riverside Medical Center.
“Suksuk kamo mask miski magwa kamo kay may ari di sa Riverside suspected patient sa Riverside nga gin isolate. Dpmn confirm pero prevention lang. Halong gid (Wear a mask even if you go out because there is a suspected patient here in Riverside who was isolated. It is not yet confirmed but just do it for prevention. Be very careful.)”
Riverside issued a denial.