16 Tubbataha Reef visitors catch COVID-19

14 are foreigners, 2 Pinoys

MANILA, Philippines — Fourteen foreign tourists and two crewmembers of a yacht who visited the Tubbataha Reef in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan have contracted COVID.

Dr. Dean Palanca, city government incident management team head, said yesterday five of the foreigners manifested symptoms while on the vessel while five were found infected during antigen testing.

The foreigners, who are from the United States and Europe, left Puerto Princesa for Tubbataha Reef on May 14.

“Sila ay napilitang bumalik dito sa Puerto Princesa at tumawag at nagpatulong kung paano i-handle itong mga nagpositibo sa antigen test,” Palanca said in an interview over ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.

He said the five tourists who tested positive in antigen testing were quarantined upon arrival in Puerto Princesa. Along with the other tourists and the crewmembers of the vessel, they were subjected to reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test.

The test results, which were released on Monday, showed that 16 contracted the virus.

Palanca said all the patients are recuperating at a quarantine facility. “Tatapusin nila yung ilang araw na protocol na ginagawa para sa mga nagpo-positibo,” he said.

The city government said it would send samples to the Philippine Genome Center to determine the COVID variant that the tourists and the vessel’s crewmembers contracted.

Palanca said the tourists are not related to the first batch of visitors who also tested positive for COVID and had since recovered.

Last month, 14 foreigners who arrived at the Port of Puerto Princesa on a mini cruise liner were found infected. One of the 18 Filipino crewmembers of the vessel also contracted the virus.

The Department of Health said the infected foreigners were with a group of 25 who also went on a diving expedition in Tubbataha Reef.

Palanca said there are only two moderate COVID cases confined in a hospital in Puerto Princesa.

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