New virus cases in Metro Manila prompt contact tracing
MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila mayors scrambled on Monday to avert the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) disease by conducting contact tracing after the Department of Health (DOH) announced new confirmed cases in Quezon City, Marikina and Pasig.
The capital was already on edge after the DOH said last week that a couple from Rizal province who had contracted the virus frequented a prayer hall in Greenhills Shopping Center, San Juan City.
On Monday, the DOH announced that the number of confirmed cases in the country had risen from 10 to 20.
One of the confirmed cases was a 57-year-old man from the first district of Quezon City who was admitted at St. Luke’s Medical Center-Quezon City.
In a statement, the city government said the man had received visitors from China, the United States and Davao region since December. Those who lived with him were required to undergo home quarantine for the next 14 days.
“I instructed the Quezon City Health Department (QCHD) to do immediate contact tracing and containment measures,” Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said. “The QCHD is also tasked to interview household members about the extent of activities of the patient.”
Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro, meanwhile, suspended the Palarong Pambansa, a nationwide sports festival for students, that was expected to draw around 30,000 participants to the city from May 1 to 9.
“Because of the health threat posed by COVID-19, I am suspending indefinitely the Palarong Pambansa 2020 as the health of the student athletes, teachers and family members from all regions in the country is our primordial concern,” he said in a statement.
The 86-year-old Marikina resident confirmed to have the disease was admitted at The Medical City in Pasig City.
According to Teodoro, the patient had traveled to South Korea and returned to Manila on Feb. 19. When he started exhibiting symptoms, he went to a hospital on March 5.
The city government on Monday immediately began tracing who he had come into contact with since his arrival.
In Pasig City, Mayor Vico Sotto announced on Monday that aside from the patient at The Medical City in Ortigas, a resident had also tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized at a private facility outside the city.
Coordination with DOH
“The local government unit is closely coordinating with the DOH,” said Sotto, adding that it was implementing precautionary measures like contact tracing, cancellation of all public events and gatherings, and disinfection of public spaces.
Makati Mayor Abby Binay, on the other hand, said that the 38-year-old Taiwanese who later tested positive for the virus had stayed in a hotel in the city before being admitted at Makati Medical Center.
She ordered a contact tracing on the hotel staff, the patient’s associates and anyone else who might have met him.
Even before the new cases were announced, several Metro Manila mayors suspended classes on Monday to let schools disinfect their premises.
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso followed suit, announcing that there would be no classes in all levels and in both public and private schools in the city from March 10 to 15.
Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan also suspended classes citywide from today until Wednesday to hold consultations with school officials.—With reports from Meg Adonis and Dexter Cabalza
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