Education official who attended student events in Isabela and Cagayan contracts COVID-19

An official with the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Schools Division in Mandaluyong City has tested positive for COVID-19, a few weeks after he attended events in Isabela and Cagayan provinces, both of which were attended by thousands of students.

In a statement on the DepEd’s Facebook page today, it said that the official is in a hospital and is recovering from the disease.

“Within the DepEd community, we have checked on his colleagues with whom he had close contact prior to hospitalization. None of them has exhibited respiratory symptoms so far,” the DepEd said.

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The official attended the National Festival of Talents (NFOT) and the National Schools Press Conference (NSPC), which were held from March 9 to 13. The NFOT was held in Ilagan City, Isabela while the NSPC was held in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan. The two events drew at least 8,000 students from private and public schools and the DepEd pushed through with both events despite the COVID-19 scare, reports The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.

The DepEd said some of the delegates who attended both events have already gone into quarantine, and some have already been identified as persons under investigation (PUIs). However, it noted that the PUIs had not encountered the DepEd official who tested positive.

“We are nearing the tail-end of the precautionary home quarantine, and overall we have monitored a small number of participants that were classified as PUIs but there is no link that can be established to the patient from Mandaluyong. We remain hopeful that we will be able to clear the precautionary period without any further incident, in light of the heightened measures we adopted for the NSPC and NFOT,” the DepEd said.

The DepEd said that it is now working with the Department of Health and Secretary Francisco Duque to trace all participants of both events.

“We have coordinated with the DOH and no less than the Secretary of Health has instructed his staff to do an extensive contact tracing as it is still imperative for effective containment. The DOH will oversee the contact tracing and notification within and outside DepEd following their protocols.

We fully understand the seriousness of the situation, and our Department is taking the necessary steps for the safety of our learners, teachers, and the public,” it said.

The Philippines has currently 707 COVID-19 cases, with 45 deaths. At least nine of those who died are doctors.

This article, Education official who attended student events in Isabela and Cagayan contracts COVID-19, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!