QC to file charges vs manning agency of person with UK variant for breaching COVID-19 health protocols
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on Thursday said they will file charges against the manning agency of a person who tested positive with COVID-19 UK variant for breaching the health protocols.
In a press briefing, Belmonte said despite being tested positive, the quarantine hotel in Manila allowed the 35-year-old man to be released to his manning agency via a Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS).
“The first question of course is why this was allowed by the Bureau of Quarantine… This is a breach of protocol clearly because they were not supposed to release positive patients to any other entity other than barangay health and emergency response teams,” she said.
Belmonte added that bringing the patient in their city without proper coordination is also another breach of protocols.
Since they were not informed patient’s transfer to the city, Belmonte said the Department of Health had a hard time looking for him when it was found that he is tested positive with the UK variant.
The patient, who is a former OFW in South Korea, is from Liloan, Cebu.
“In light of the various breaches of protocols… The city government has decided to file charges against the Baltic Asian Crew manning agency. While they are not registered in Quezon City, the violation occurred in Quezon City,” Belmonte said.
“In my belief, their irresponsibility has put our community at risk… I’ll probably agree that the patient is also liable given the fact that he knows he is positive yet he did not inform the barangay and the city. I took that (as a) violation of the manning agency for having brought this positive patient in our community and not inform our barangay and city,” she said.
Belmonte said the apartment where the patient stayed to undergo home quarantine is owned by the manning agency.
She said they will file charges against the man for violating the Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.
“I will also reach out to the Manila City government as well to find out if this manning agency is complete with regards with its business permits and requirements they are supposed to submit,” Belmonte said.
Belmonte said the manning agency has not made any communication with the city government.
However, Belmonte said it is still premature for them to file charges against the hotel who allowed the patient to go home despite being tested positive for the virus.
“We don’t have jurisdiction over them (quarantine facility)… But the one who has management authority for them is the Bureau of Quarantine so I think that is proper for us to interview them to find out why they allowed him to go out. So it’s premature for us to file charges against the hotel,” she said.
The former OFW has been making frequent trips to his manning agency and his last visit was on January 14, after securing another overseas placement.
The QC government found that he rode a taxi and stayed in a hotel in Manila on January 17. On the same day he had a swab test in Pasay City.
The following day, he was informed that he tested positive for COVID-19 and his sample was sent to the Philippine Genome Center.
He continued to stay in the same hotel until January 21, and his agency booked a ride via a ride-hailing app and transferred him to an apartment in Riverside, Commonwealth.
On February 5, his genome sequencing results showed he contracted the B.1.1.7 variant and on February 8, he developed a mild cough. He got tested again on February 10.
Rolly Cruz, Quezon City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) head, said it is very unlikely that the patient got his virus in Cebu.
Cruz said there was no reported active case in Riverside.
He said the other person that was found with the patient was under the agency but he was not yet tested positive for COVID-19.
Cruz said the city is conducting extensive contact tracing and testing in the community.
“Their condition will be strictly monitored by our experts, and we assure them that they will be well taken care of in our facility,” he said.
Belmonte reminded the public to not discriminate against the people of Riverside, Commonwealth and urged residents to cooperate with the local government. Ella Dionisio/DMS