MANILA - The Quezon City government will take action against a Manila-based recruitment agency for alleged breach of COVID-19 protocols after transferring an overseas Filipino worker with UK coronavirus variant in the city.
QC Mayor Joy Belmonte said the agency should be held accountable for "being irresponsible" in transporting the infected patient to an apartment in Riverside Street, Barangay Commonwealth without informing city authorities.
"Their actions could have led to a very destructive state in our community if this has spread and we don’t know yet if it has actually spread because the results have not come out," she said in an interview on ANC.
Some 90 families or 350 people have been tracked down as possible contacts of the patient, of which 105 have underwent swab testing.
Belmonte said they were keeping a close watch on 8 residents who allegedly manifested symptoms of the illness. Results of the test are expected to come out Saturday.
"Riverside is actually a depressed part of barangay, which is why I am all the more bothered because this is not a suitable place even for home quarantine and totally unacceptable what this manning agency had done," the mayor said.
The city government is set to file charges for violation of Republic Act 11332 or Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act against the recruitment agency next week.
"Totally unacceptable. We can't tolerate that here in Quezon City. We have to take action against them to send a message that the pandemic is here. Variants are mutating. These variants are already here and we have to be extra careful," the mayor added.
The patient, who hails from Liloan, Cebu, arrived from South Korea in August. He also stayed in Sucat, Parañaque in November.
After securing a job in Taiwan, he underwent COVID-19 test on Jan. 17 and tested positive for the virus.
Instead of isolating at a quarantine facility, he was transferred by his agency to an apartment in Barangay Commonwealth. He was later found out to have the more transmissible coronavirus variant in February.
Belmonte said it took 5 days for the Department of Health to locate the patient after finding out he had the UK COVID-19 variant. The agency also had to ask for help from the National Bureau of Investigation.
The patient is currently negative of COVID-19 and isolating in the city's quarantine facility, she added.
Amid concerns of the possible spread of the UK COVID-19 variant in Barangay Commonwealth, the biggest barangay in Quezon City, Belmonte urged the public not to panic.
"There's no need to panic. There's no need to discriminate as well because... the people have been contact traced. They are safely quarantining in their homes. There are barangay tanods and police officers watching over the vicinity," she said.
As of Feb. 11, Quezon City has logged 31,171 COVID-19 cases, figures from the city's health department showed. The tally includes 29,430 recoveries, 915 active cases and 826 fatalities.