Is Batanes the only coronavirus-free province in the Philippines?

August 6, 2020 - 11:55 AM
4161
A photo of the provincial government of Batanes on Facebook

A data analyst claimed that Batanes is the only province without infections of the novel coronavirus despite discrepancies in data trackers.

Dr. Peter Clayton from the University of the Philippines Pandemic Response Team shared on Twitter on August 4 that Batanes is the only province with zero active cases and having no cases since the start of the outbreak in the country last March.

“Batanes is the ONLY PROVINCE with ZERO ACTIVE CASES, with the province having NO CASES SINCE THE BEGINNING,” Clayton said.

The analyst cited the Data Drop of the Department of Health and UP’s independent tracker Endcov.ph for this information.

ABS-CBN’s Investigative and Research Group similarly picked up the recent data from DOH that Batanes remained the only province in the country free of the deadly virus.

While it’s 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.

Screenshot of UP’s endcov tracker

DOH’s own tracker which can be accessed publicly also only shows cases per region.

As of August 4, in Cagayan Valley where Batanes is located, there are only 357 cases wherein 165 are active ones, 191 have recovered and one died.

Third-party monitoring website covid19stats.ph which sources its data from DOH and the JHU Coronavirus Resource Center features cases per region and city.

Batanes, however, is not included among the provinces listed in its July 31 report of COVID-19 cases.

Regardless of these potential discrepancies, Filipinos lauded the achievement of Batanes and hoped that more provinces and places will be COVID-19-free in the near future as well.

ABS-CBN reporter Kevin Manalo attributed this feat to the early travel restrictions Batanes provincial government implemented last March.

“Their foresight and good policy really paid off!” Manalo said.

What’s the situation in Batanes?

In a report on its official Facebook page on August 3, Batanes provincial government stated that it has 84 individuals who have been tested on August 1 and still waiting for results from the main Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

They also have five suspected cases under strict isolation.

BATANES COVID-19 BULLETIN UPDATEas of August 03, 2020#BatanesBantayCOVID19#LetUsHealAsOne #COVIDFreeBatanes

Posted by Provincial Government of Batanes on Monday, August 3, 2020

In a separate post on August 4, it announced that it is imposing strict fishing restrictions to its constituents after the nearby municipality of Calayan in Cagayan reported two active cases.

These positive cases are locally stranded individuals (LSI) who arrived in the province from Manila.

PUBLIC ADVISORYJuly 29, 2020FOR WIDEST DISSEMINATION #BatanesBantayCOVID19 #COVIDFreeBatanes

Posted by Provincial Government of Batanes on Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The government-led Hatid Tulong Program and Balik-Probinsya programs have largely been blamed by provincial officials for the alleged spread of sick LSI’s to far-flung provinces and regions.

Government agencies behind these initiatives were also constantly in hot water for their lack of cooperation in accommodating these Filipinos.