DILG: 15 test positive for COVID-19 after woman cut hotel quarantine

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 30 2021 10:15 PM

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MANILA - The woman who skipped the mandatory quarantine in a Makati hotel may have infected "about 15" people with COVID-19, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Thursday, amid the threat of the omicron variant. 

In an interview on Teleradyo, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año confirmed that a certain Gwyneth Chua, a traveler from the US, went out of her hotel while under mandatory quarantine and had dinner in a restaurant. 

The United States is currently battling a new wave of new infections because of the omicron variant. 

She had a swab taken Dec. 26, Año said, a "clear" indication that Chua violated protocols. She later tested positive for COVID-19. 

"Yung problema, yung mga nakasama niya sa dinner and sa bar, ay mga nagpa-positive na rin... Ang sabi lang about 15 yung nagpa-positive. We need to confirm that," said Año. 

(The problem is the people she were with in a dinner and a bar have already tested positive for COVID-19. About 15 have tested positive already.)

"Kung omicron case 'to, huwag naman sana. Kasi ang bilis talaga kung omicron... Magpa-test na lang," he said later on. 

(I don't want this to be an omicron case, because the variant is really transmissible. They should get tested)

It is not immediately clear if these were the people she were with in the dinner or the party. More people, however, are coming out with information on the matter, Año said. 

The investigation is still ongoing but CCTV footage confirmed that the woman got out of the quarantine facility, he added.

"Ang mga ka-party niya, marami na ring nag-positive noon. Marami na ring may symptoms doon. We still don't know if it is omicron because hindi pa, wala pang result yung genome sequencing niya," he explained. 

(The people she were with in the party have tested positive. Many of them are already exhibiting symptoms. We are still not sure if it is omicron because her genome sequence results have yet to arrive.) 

Authorities have visited the establishments Chua went to and their personnel have been interviewed, Año said.

"Very cooperative naman sila, pinakita na rin nila yung CCTV footage sa ating CIDG investigators." 

ACCOUNTABILITY

Año said the woman, who is currently in isolation in another quarantine hotel, needs to be held accountable for violating the government's guidelines. 

Berjaya Makati Hotel, meanwhile, could be liable for their supposed failure to supervise the person and following the quarantine protocols, he added. 

"Pinayagan ba siyang makalabas? May personnel ba diyan na binayaran para palabasin siya o talagang tumakas si Ms. Chua on her own. Marami akong naririnig na ganyan... bumabalik na lang sila kapag ite-test na sila," he explained.

He said they are also validating reports that there are "schemes" on paying hotels to temporarily get out of quarantine, which is illegal. 

"Nagbabayad na lang sila sa hotel para makalabas... hindi mo puwedeng bayaran yung kaligtasan ng ibang tao." 

(They are paying the hotel to get out. You cannot pay for the safety of other people.) 

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat earlier said Chua has admitted violating health protocols amid the pandemic. 

The Department of Health (DOH) has criticized the incident, saying that this is not the time to endanger the lives of the public. 

The DOH earlier in the day confirmed over 1,600 new COVID-19 cases, the highest in more than a month, as the country remains on guard on the threat of the omicron variant. 

The Philippines has 4 detected omicron cases so far.