Regional forces step in as Cebu police station undergoes quarantine

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The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO 7) will send more troops to secure the COVID-19-infected barangays in Cebu City as a police station undergoes quarantine after one of its officers and two detainees contracted the viral disease. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 6) — The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO 7) will send more troops to secure the COVID-19-infected barangays in Cebu City as a police station undergoes quarantine after one of its officers and two detainees contracted the viral disease.

Police Director PBGen Albert Ignatius Ferro on Wednesday said Police Station 6 in Barangay Sawang-Calero is under isolation, with all 56 personnel quarantined in a facility near the station for the next 14 days. Station 6 is among the units tasked to enforce the enhanced community quarantine in critical areas such as Barangay Suba, where there are 124 COVID-19 cases.

During the two-week period, Ferro said they will deploy reserve personnel from the regional office and ask for augmentation from the Armed Forces' Central Command in Cebu City.

These measures come after a patrolman tested positive for COVID-19 while on duty. Two inmates who were arrested on April 12 over a drug-related case were also found to be positive for coronavirus before they were transferred to the city jail.

The infected police officer is currently staying in barangay Mabolo's isolation facility, the director added. He is a member of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion and one of the policemen assigned to secure sitio Zapatera in Barangay Luz that was locked down due to a surge of COVID-19 cases. Among the 40 assigned officers in the barangay who underwent testing, he was the only one who tested positive.

Ferro said the station's quarantined personnel along with 38 other detainees will also take a polymerase chain reaction-based test to check if they have COVID-19. None of the policemen and the detainees have exhibited symptoms so far, he said.

Cebu's COVID-19 cases reached 1,459 on Tuesday after recording 192 additional cases. Regional health officials expect the infected toll to rise further as it starts testing more people in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu using rapid antibody test kits.

But positive results from these tests will not be included in the official count, health regional director Jaime Bernadas said, unless a PCR-based test confirms them. The Department of Health earlier warned that the rapid antibody tests can yield false negative results since it does not detect the coronavirus in the body but the antibodies that fight it.

Cebu-based journalist Dale Israel contributed to this report.