By Tracy Cabrera
UNTIL recently, a data analyst claimed that Batanes is the only province without infections of the novel coronavirus despite discrepancies in data trackers.
Last August 4, Dr. Peter Clayton from the University of the Philippines Pandemic Response Team shared on Twitter the island province of Batanes is the only province with zero active cases and having no cases since the start of the outbreak in the country last March.
The analyst cited the Data Drop of the Department of Health and UP’s independent tracker Endcov.ph for this information.
While it is true that the province has not reported any confirmed case for months, it’s difficult to determine if Batanes is the only place in the Philippines under this condition because of the lack of synchronized data from various Covid-19 trackers.
In UP’s data tracker that Clayton cited, which reflects the same records from DOH’s tracker, its map view of COVID-19 cases only shows cases per municipality or city per region.
This map, therefore, showed that several municipalities across the country have zero active cases. Metro Manila remained the region with the most infections.
However, a more recent report from the Batanes Provincial Information Desk revealed that a locally stranded individual (LSI) who arrived in the province last September 22 via Philippine Air Force (PAF), has tested positive on September 28.
The said patients have shown no symptoms whatsoever but for precautionary measure, he is under strict isolation in the Batanes Resort and being closely observed and managed by health experts. All identified ‘close contacts’ of the patient are also being monitored while LSIs are being checked by the Provincial Covid-19 Task Force.
In relation to this report, the provincial government of Batanes led by Governor Marylou Cayce with its medical team is enjoining everyone to continuously observe the minimum public health standards such as the wearing of face masks and face shields as well as social distancing and proper hygiene.
According to Cayco, the country’s most northerly province has remained free from coronavirus for almost eight months despite the continuously rising number of infections in the country.
“Being in a far-flung location has played a part in containing the entry of the virus,” she said.
But apparently this has proven to be not infallible and the governor stressed the value of closely monitoring all persons who would want to enter the province in order to determine their health conditions and if they are positive of Covid-19.
Lockdown and other health measures were also implemented early, as the provincial government has also been monitoring the coronavirus situation in China — where the disease outbreak started—as early as December.