The Quezon City government will file “early next week” charges against a Manila-based manning agency for breaching quarantine protocols after it released one of its employees, who tested positive for the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19, from its first quarantine hotel in Manila and transferred him to an unauthorized facility in the city despite his health condition.
The patient was even transported through ride-hailing service Grab and not by health personnel, the local government added.
Mayor Joy Belmonte on Thursday said they would hold Baltic Asia Crewing Incorporated liable for supposedly violating the R.A. 11332 or the Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases.
Belmonte pointed out that the manning agency violated the law by releasing the patient from its first quarantine hotel in Sta. Cruz, Manila although he was still positive for the virus and by not informing the local government of his transfer to the city.
Regarding the patient, the mayor said, he also breached health protocols by providing incorrect information in his contact tracing information sheet.
“The problem there was his [patient’s] registered address is Liloan, Cebu. So when we were already looking for him because his results showed that he had the U.K. variant, he could no longer be found by the Department of Health,” Belmonte told reporters in Filipino in an online press conference.
According to Belmonte, this was the reason why they only found on Wednesday (February 10) that the patient was already being quarantined in her city, particularly at an apartment in Barangay Commonwealth reportedly owned by the agency.
“The DOH found that the patient had the U.K. variant on Feb. 5, but it was only on Feb. 10 that the DOH informed us about him because he provided a different address,” the mayor said, adding that the Health department even sought help from the National Bureau of Investigation to locate the patient.
The Quezon City government made an early morning announcement on Thursday that residents of a community in Riverside in Barangay Commonwealth would be tested and contact traced for COVID-19.
The move was made as the 35-year-old patient allegedly did not “totally” undergo quarantine and might have infected several others in the community.
“We are assuming that he did not totally undergo quarantine in the area. First of all, the apartment where he was brought to was not suitable for quarantine. And also, we’re assuming that he was also going outside to buy food because the barangay was not able to support his provision,” City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit head, Dr. Rolly Cruz, said.
Belmonte said they would pursue filing legal charges against the agency to set an “example” and warning against other health protocols violators.
“One misstep might risk…the health of the whole community. And I’m just praying that this misstep will not result in a very adverse effect to our community here in Quezon City,” the mayor said, noting that filing of complaints will be done by “early next week.”
Currently, Belmonte said, the manning agency “has not yet taken any step” to reach out to the local government regarding the incident.
“We’ve been trying to contact them since this morning… apparently, they had not yet answered our calls,” Cruz added.
Citing information from the DOH, the local government said, the patient was a former Overseas Filipino Worker in Korea who returned to the Philippines in August 2020. He hails from Liloan, Cebu.
While processing his papers in Manila, he stayed in Parañaque City until he tested positive for COVID-19.
The patient and his companion, whose COVID-19 test result has yet to be released, inside the apartment in Quezon City were already turned over to the city’s isolation facility for monitoring.