At least 82 cops from the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), including those who were deployed during President Duterte’s 6th and last State of the Nation Address (SONA), have tested positive for COVID-19.
Citing information from the city’s Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (CESU), the Quezon City local government said the policemen were detailed at QCPD’s Police Station 3 (Talipapa) as well as Police Community Precincts 1 and 2 (Unang Sigaw and Bahay Toro).
They were part of the 161 police personnel who underwent a routine swab testing on July 23. The remaining 79 turned out negative.
Their test results came out on July 27 and 28.
According to QCPD Director Brig. Gen. Antonio Yarra, 51 of policemen who tested positive for COVID-19 were part of the police contingents that manned the Commonwealth Avenue area during President Duterte’s SONA on Monday.
Yarra added 26 of them were detailed near the UP Technohub area while the remaining personnel were assigned to route security and did not directly engage with protesters.
“There was no direct link with SONA yet, considering the testing was done July 23,” Yarra said in a Viber message. “Their station commander tested negative and stays healthy.”
The number of infections among the station personnel is “alarming,” Yarra added in a press conference.
CESU head Dr. Rolando Cruz said the COVID-positive law enforcers are all asymptomatic and have been fully vaccinated. They are currently isolated at the city’s HOPE facilities.
Local government officials are currently discussing if they need to place communities near the police station and precincts where the policemen are assigned to under granular lockdown to avoid the further spread of the virus.
Police Station 3 Commander Lt. Col. Cristine Tabdi said their office will remain in operation, but will only receive reports and complaints outdoors. It will also be restricted to the public and the visitors.
Tabdi also vowed to investigate how the outbreak occurred in her area of jurisdiction, the local government added.
Meanwhile, persons under police custody (PUPCs) of Station 13 will be temporarily turned over to QCPD headquarters in Camp Karingal while the disinfection of the area is ongoing, Yarra said.
The personnel who are currently under isolation will also be temporarily replaced by the District Mobile Force Battalion and Reactionary Standby Support Force, the police director added.
Contact tracing efforts are also ongoing, but Yarra said they are not in a rush.
“Wala naman tayong si-net na timeline (for contact tracing). Ang importante ay maging accurate (We did not set any timeline. What’s important is an accurate contact tracing),” he said.
Mayor Joy Belmonte said she “was doubtful” if the police personnel were deployed during SONA “as per protocol, after swabbing, they should have been quarantined.” But Yarra’s statement proved otherwise.
“The city government is prepared to contain the spread of the virus. Our CESU has the capability to deal with this situation,” Belmonte said in a statement, adding that the public should “not to panic, especially the communities in which the precincts where these police personnel were assigned.”
Concerns about the policemen’s deployment were raised as some of the law enforcers figured in a skirmish with the rallyists which led to violations of the social distancing protocols. The policemen tried to block the rallyists who were marching towards Tandang Sora Avenue in Quezon City.