Covid-infected quarantine skipper partied in Makati: DOT

Covid-infected quarantine skipper partied in Makati: DOT

MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Thursday confirmed that a returning Filipina from the United States breached quarantine protocols this December and tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat did not drop a name but shared in a radio interview that the woman was seen in a bar in Poblacion, Makati City where she partied the day after she arrived in the country.

Hindi siya nag-quarantine at all… May modus na babayaran lang tapos magpapakita sila on the 5th day para mag-swab… Pagdating ng taong ito, the next day, aba umikot na ng Poblacion (The person did not undergo quarantine at all… There’s a modus that they’ll just pay and will only show up on the 5th day for swabbing… When this person arrived, the next day, she already went to Poblacion),” Romulo-Puyat said.

Berjaya Makati Hotel, the quarantine facility, initially covered for the girl, saying she was in isolation the whole time, but the DOT said it received evidence from the woman’s fellow partygoers themselves testifying she was with them.

Romulo-Puyat said the girl eventually admitted skipping quarantine.

Ginawa ng mga kasama niya, nagpakita ng signed affidavit, mga pictures, TikTok videos nandoon nga (Her companions showed signed affidavits, pictures, and TikTok videos that showed she was there],” Romulo-Puyat said.

“Ang malas nun, nag-positive siya on the fifth day at ‘yong mga nakasama niya nag-positive rin (What’s unfortunate was that she tested positive on the fifth day, including her companions),” she added.

In the interest of due process, Romulo-Puyat said the hotel was given three days to formally explain their side.

Nagsinungaling na sila sa amin noong una, sinabi nila na nandoon raw ‘yong tao, wala naman. We even have CCTV (videos) that the person was in Poblacion… We will wait for their explanation,” she said. 

Accomplices may be charged, too

Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they will leave the issue to law enforcers and the courts, if necessary.

He said those who cooperated with the girl, who came from Los Angeles, California, to circumvent the law may also be held liable.

“Assuming that reports about the incident are factually correct, and without meaning to prejudge the case, there could have been a major violation of ordinances requiring strict observance, under pain of penalties, of quarantine regulations for international travelers, not only on the part of the person concerned but also of those who might have knowingly cooperated with her in committing such violation,” Guevarra told reporters via text message.

“The applicability of RA (Republic Act) 11332 (Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act) to violations of this sort has not been tested judicially, so this may be an opportune time to try it,” he added.

Superspreader

In a radio interview, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said the woman may have infected “about 15 people with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

“The problem is her dinner and bar companions were also tested positive. It was reported that about 15 people were positive. We need to confirm that,’’ Año said.

The DILG chief also pointed out that many people in the party that Chua attended were Covid-19 positive while others had symptoms of the virus.

“We still don’t know if it is Omicron because hindi pa, wala pang result yung genome sequencing niya (because her genome sequencing result has not been released yet),’’ he said.

Año emphasized that the woman should be held liable for violating the government’s mandatory health protocols.

At present, Chua is in isolation in the quarantine facility of another hotel.

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Dionardo Carlos said he has tasked appropriate police units to investigate the case.

“Based on the instructions of SILG (Secretary of the Interior and Local Government) Año and CabSec (Cabinet Secretary Karlo) Nograles, I have instructed on 30 December 21 the DIDM (Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management), CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group), NCRPO (National Capital Region Police Office), HS (Health Service) to investigate the case and file appropriate criminal charges to anyone who will be found violating. Also, the PNP mandated to ensure public safety, will do the rounds, inspection, and accounting of persons under quarantine in the designated hotels-quarantine facilities (QFs),” Carlos said.  (with Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)

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