DOH not disclosing quarantine violator's genome sequence results

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 07 2022 09:00 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday confirmed getting the genome sequencing result of a quarantine skipper who supposedly infected her close contacts with COVID-19 after attending a party, but said the information "may not be disclosed to protect the citizen".

In a statement, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Gwyneth Chua's COVID genome sequencing result was submitted to them on Thursday but it is "still being verified." 

Provisions of the Data Privacy Act, she said, prohibits them from sharing the information to the public. 

"Information like this may not be disclosed to protect the citizen," the statement read. 

Chua, who was supposedly in mandatory isolation at the hotel after arriving from the United States, jumped quarantine and later tested positive for COVID-19. She attended parties at the Poblacion district, and some of her close contacts also caught the virus, according to government officials. 

Media also inquired the health department about the information after she infected 15 others, based on information shared by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). 

Genome sequencing enables scientists to identify COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 and monitor how it changes into variants, according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention.

The process is important in order to provide timely COVID-19 data which would prompt appropriate containment measures, lawmakers earlier said. 

 CONTACTS POSITIVE OF COVID-19

Vergeire confirmed the DILG's information that 15 of Chua's close contacts tested positive for COVID-19. 

Only 2 of them, however, "have definitive data" in terms of sequencing results, according to the official. 

"Ongoing tracing and investigations are still underway. Active case finding and referral for whole genome sequencing are set to areas involved," Vergeire said. 

"In addition, the imposition of granular lockdowns for barangays and areas with case spikes are being recommended."

On Thursday, the Makati local government ordered Berjaya Hotel, where she stayed, closed down for the reported quarantine breach. 

President Rodrigo Duterte also ordered the deployment of policemen to quarantine hotels because of the development. 

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