QC wants tighter security in COVID-19 quarantine hotels to avoid UK variant transmission
MANILA, Philippines — The local government of Quezon City is looking to tighten up security around hotels being used as quarantine facilities to prevent COVID-19 transmissions, especially of the variant from the United Kingdom (UK).
Mayor Joy Belmonte said on Sunday that city authorities need to double their efforts to avoid the UK variant from being transmitted, especially after the Department of Health (DOH) announced that several infected individuals in the country already have it.
Belmonte said that the city government and the Quezon City Police District are studying the possibility of deploying police officers outside the hotels, aside from thoroughly inspecting the facilities, to ensure that 14-day quarantine periods are observed.
“Now that the DOH confirmed the presence of the new strain in several places of the country, the more we need to double our efforts in preventing the spread of the virus,” the mayor said in a statement.
“If need be, we can tap our police officers to man these hotels so we can prevent returning Filipinos from leaving without finishing the government-mandated quarantine period,” she added.
It was initially thought that the country’s first case of the UK variant was a Quezon City-based businessman, but the Philippine Genome Center (PGC), which processes swab samples to determine if the coronavirus is the B.1.1.7 or the UK variant, said on Saturday that the said variant may have been in the country already as early as December.
Last Friday, DOH said that they have detected 17 cases of the UK variant in the country, including 12 from the remote Bontoc town in Mountain Province. Both DOH and Bontoc’s local government unit have not clarified how the patients got the latest strain.
City Tourism Department officer Tetta Tirona said that they have monitored that some hotels are also placing stringent quarantine protocols to avoid untoward incidents.
“We are leaving no stone unturned to guarantee that every hotel operating in the city is implementing the health and safety guidelines to the letter,” Tirona said.
On the other hand, the City Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (CESU) required hotels to submit a daily list overseas Filipino workers and travelers returning to the country and who are quarantined with their respective hotels.
Belmonte added that they would conduct unannounced visits to hotels to monitor the protocols in place.
“Nais nating makatiyak na hindi tayo napalulusutan ng mga hotel na ito sa pagtanggap ng mga bisita na labas sa itinatakda ng ating protocols,” Belmonte added.
In the case of the supposed first recorded case, the local executive said the patient was allowed to go home after testing negative for the coronavirus.
“Our doctors in our HOPE facility declared that he is finally recovered. They gave him clearance to go home so he was allowed to leave the facility yesterday afternoon. He will continue to be monitored by our health officials,” she noted.
“Patuloy na imo-monitor ng mga doktor ang kanilang kalagayan, at tatapusin na lamang ang kanilang quarantine sa isolation facility bago sila payagang umuwi,” Belmonte added.
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