UK variant detected in QC

Published February 11, 2021, 6:44 AM

by Joseph Pedrajas

Residents of a community in Riverside, Barangay Commonwealth in Quezon City will undergo contact tracing and testing for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after a 35-year-old overseas Filipino worker (OFW), who was quarantined in the area, was found to have the United Kingdom (UK) variant of the virus.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte (Mayor Joy Belmonte's Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte
(Mayor Joy Belmonte’s Facebook page / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The Quezon City government announced this early Thursday morning when the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) learned from the Department of Health (DOH) on Feb. 10 that the male OFW had the new virus variant after his sample was sent to the Philippine Genome Center.

The patient and his companion, both isolated in the same apartment in Quezon City, will be transferred to the city’s isolation facility, the local government added.

Mayor Joy Belmonte said the Quezon City government will file charges next week against Baltic Asia Crewing Inc., a Manila-based manning agency, for breach of quarantine protocols after it allegedly released the OFW who had tested positive for the UK variant of COVID-19, from a quarantine hotel in Manila and transferred him to the Quezon City apartment, an unauthorized facility, in the city despite his health condition.

Belmonte called out the patient’s manning agency for placing “an entire community at risk by bringing a COVID-19 positive patient to our city, considering that both their agency and the quarantine hotel are in Manila.”

The patient was transported from the hotel in Manila to the Quezon City apartment through ride-hailing service Grab, the Quezon City local government added.

Belmonte said they will sue the manning agency for violating Republic Act No. 113332, the Law on the Reporting of Communicable Diseases.

“It is unfortunate that we learned about this only now,” she said.

“We want to make sure that nobody was infected with COVID-19, especially by the much more contagious B.1.1.7 variant. We are acting very quickly to isolate the two and to conduct extensive contact tracing and testing in the area,” Belmonte added.

Citing information from the DOH, the local government said the patient was an OFW 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 and tested positive for COVID-19.

Bureau of Quarantine

Belmonte sought help from the Bureau of Quarantine in determining culpability for this breach, which, she said, is putting the life of an entire community at risk.

She is “appealing to the Bureau of Quarantine to determine why the hotel released the man to the agency several days after he tested positive.”

She is also seeking legal advice as to how the local government can hold liable the 35-year-old patient and his manning agency “for not following health protocols.”

According to Belmonte, “this agency placed an entire community at risk by bringing a COVID-19 positive patient to our city, considering that both their agency and the quarantine hotel are in Manila.”

Here’s what we know so far about the patient, based on information provided by the Quezon City government:

• Former Overseas Filipino Worker in Korea who returned to the Philippines in August 2020 and stayed in Cebu.
• He moved to Parañaque in November 2020 and “made frequent trips to a manning agency in Malate, Manila.”
• His last visit to his manning agency was on January 14, 2021 when he secured “another overseas placement.”
• While waiting for deployment, he rode a taxi and stayed in a hotel in Manila on January 17. He underwent a swab testing in Pasay City on the same day.
• The following day, he was informed to be positive for COVID-19. His sample was sent to the Philippine Genome Center.
• He continued to stay in the same hotel until January 21 before his agency booked him a ride through a ride-hailing app and transferred him to an apartment in Riverside in Commonwealth Avenue.
• On February 5, his genome sequencing results showed he had the UK or B.1.1.7 variant and he developed a mild cough on February 8.
• On February 10, his agency arranged another swab test. His companion at the same apartment was also swabbed.