Checking temperature at a medical checkpoint in Bataan. Photo by Ernie Esconde
BALANGA CITY — The provincial government on Saturday announced the suspension of classes in all levels, both public and private, and the temporary stoppage of mass gatherings including religious activities after Bataan’s first case of Covid-19 was confirmed March 13.
Gov. Albert Garcia said the suspension of classes and the stoppage of mass gatherings took effect March 14 and to last indefinitely.
Checkpoints manned by police and medics of the Metro Bataan Development Authority and the provincial health office were also set up in boundaries of the province to monitor returning residents and guests.
“Maging kalmado tayo at huwag mag-panic, at the same time practice cooperation at ang sundin instructions ng ating pamahalaan nang sa ganoon malampasan natin malaking health challenge na ito,”he said.
Garcia said that when it was confirmed that patient PH64, male, 32 years old, they started contact tracing and have the mother and other relatives the victimcame in contact with quarantined.
He said that a roommate in Manila of the victim was also confined at a hospital and awaiting result of laboratory test.
The governor said the victim, a professor in one of the schools in Manila and a resident of a Bataan town, possibly got the virus when he went to Greenhills in San Juan, Metro Manila. He said the professor has no history of foreign travel.
When victim felt ill, he went home to Bataan by passenger bus to relax but his condition did not improve so he decided to go to the Bataan St. Joseph Hospital in Balanga City where he was confined and took swab test. On Friday, lab test showed that victim was positive of the virus.
“Nasa ospital pa rin siya at nagpapagaling. Latest information natin, gumaganda na kanyang situasyon,”Garcia said.
The governor spelled out what they did after the Department of Health officially made known of the condition of PH64.
“Unang ginawa natin ay sinuspinde natin ang klase, all levels, indefinitely nang sa ganoon hindi magkaroon ng exposure ang mga kabataan at mahawa. So cancelled na klase,” he said.
He said he also talked with leaders of religious organizations like the Roman Catholic Church, Christian churches, Iglesia Ni Cristo, and the Muslims and requested for a temporary suspension in holding mass gatherings.
“We strongly encouraged them to comply na huwag na munang magdaos ng mga religious activities,” Garcia said, adding that the religious sector responded positively.
The governor said they observed the mass exodus of passengers from Metro Manila on their way home to Bataan Friday night so they decided to place checkpoints in the province’s boundaries effective 10 p.m. Friday.
Garcia said all incoming passengers to the province were being monitored of their temperature through thermal scanners at the checkpoints like in Barangay Balsik, Hermosa which lies in the boundary ofPampanga and Bataan.
“Hiling namin ang pang-unawa, mag-cooperate ang lahat para sa ating kaligtasan,” the governor said.
Passengers found nothing wrong with the checkpoint and said it was okay with them and a precaution against Covid–19.
Garcia appealed to his constituents for calmness and cooperation on measures they instituted: “Ang ating purpose dito ay pabagalin at tuluyang pahintuin ang pagkalat ng virus na ito. Kung hindi natin magagawa yan, magkaka-problema ang mga ospital, mga health workers at tayong lahat dahil walang gagamot sa atin at tuloy-tuloy ang pagkalat nito.”
He said that mass gathering was one means of transferring the virus: “Hindi natin alam na maaaring carrier na tayo, malakas lang ang katawan natin. We could be asymptomatic pero nakakahawa na pala tayo. Pwede yan mangyari sa mga mass gathering at mahawa natin ang mga kababayan natin at sila naman manghawa sa iba.”
“Kaya hinihiling namin ang kooperasyon ng bawat isa na sana sumunod na lamang. Kung walang importanteng lakad, sa tahanan na lang tayo at patibayin natin ang relasyon natin sa ating mga anak, mga magulang at ibang kaanak,” Garcia said. “Napaka-fast paced ang buhay. Let us take advantage of this time to catch up and deepen our relationship with our loved ones. Sa tulong-tulong ng bawat isa, sana malampasan natin ito sa lalong madaling panahon para bumalik na sa normal ang ating buhay.”