‘Tantamount to discrimination’: Belmonte denounces Arayat LGU move to ban entry of QC residents

Robie de Guzman   •   January 18, 2021   •   867

MANILA, Philippines – Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on Monday denounced the decision of the local government of Arayat, Pampanga to restrict the entry of the city’s residents into the municipality following reports that a resident from QC tested positive for the UK COVID-19 variant after traveling overseas.

In a statement, Belmonte called the local government’s decision ‘totally without basis’ and is ‘tantamount to discrimination’.

“We strongly denounce the Arayat local government’s decision to restrict the entry of Quezon City residents to their municipality, because this decision is totally without basis, can cause undue panic, and is tantamount to discrimination,” she said.

Belmonte pointed out that the patient did not set foot in Quezon City after arriving from Dubai on January 7 when he was tested and that he stayed in a facility as part of the 14-day mandatory quarantine period.

“The day after, it was confirmed he was COVID-19 positive. His sample was sent to the Philippine Genome Center. On the night of January 13, the city government and the city health department were informed by the DOH that he has the so-called United Kingdom variant. Since January 8, he has been staying at a facility where he remains up to this day for treatment,” she said.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier reported that the patient traveled to Dubai on December 27 and returned to the country on January 7. His female companion tested negative for the virus but is also under quarantine and strict monitoring.

The DOH added that both had no exposure to a confirmed case before leaving the country.

Belmonte likewise emphasized that a total of 143 individuals, who are considered contacts of the patient have been identified, quarantined, and are closely being monitored.

“Among them are more than 30 healthcare workers and barangay workers who assisted and cared for the patient when he was transferred from the quarantine hotel in Manila to the isolation facility in Quezon City after he was tested positive for the virus,” she said.

Belmonte then appealed to the Arayat LGU to “reconsider its earlier order and allow QC residents to enter its jurisdiction.”

The Arayat LGU has yet to respond to Belmonte’s statement.

Davao City boosts tracing; probes possible link of first COVID-19 variant case

Robie de Guzman   •   February 18, 2021

The city government of Davao on Thursday said it has stepped up the investigation and contact tracing on the possible source of the city’s first known case of the B.1.1.7 variant of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) first detected in the United Kingdom.

This is after the city reported a case of a 10-year old male who tested positive for the new variant last week.

Dr. Ashley Lopez, the acting chief of the City Health Office, said the case was among the sixth batch of samples sequenced by the Philippine Genome Center on February 8, in which 3 of the 19 new cases of the B.1.1.7 in the country were traced in Davao Region.

Two of the cases are from Davao de Oro and the other one is from Davao City.

Lopez said the health office immediately investigated the case and conducted tracing for the patient’s close contacts.

“The boy was immediately isolated after he tested positive on January 18. He was isolated for 10 days because he was asymptomatic,” he said.

“After 10 days the boy was sent home and continued quarantine for four more days,” he added.

The child has fully recovered on February 1 but remains in quarantine at home, according to Lopez.

The patient’s grandmother, whom he had contact with during the holidays, recently completed a 21-day quarantine. His parents have already taken RT-PCR tests and both have yielded negative results.

The city health official said there is no clear evidence yet on how the boy contracted the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant.

“The family has no history of travel even in the past year and has no known contact with a suspected UK variant or foreigner. We can’t find a history of exposure to a probable UK variant,” Lopez said based on their assessment.

He said there is no evidence of community transmission of the coronavirus variant in the city.

QC LGU identifies 9 close contacts of UK variant case in the city

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Authorities have identified nine first-generation contacts of a former overseas Filipino worker temporarily residing at Rivers Commonwealth Quezon City after testing positive for the COVID-19 B 1.1.7 variant (UK Variant).

The Quezon City local government said, the nine individuals tested negative for the COVID-19 UK variant but will still have to finish their 14-day quarantine.

Among the second generation contacts, also nine individuals have been identified.

Meanwhile, the index case has around 196 general close contacts in total.

There were also around 342 individuals within the 50-meter radius of the index case’s apartment but only 206 of them were tested for the virus.

The rest are already considered as third generation contacts and are no longer required for testing, according to the City Health Department.

Of the 206 individuals who were tested, 198 of them yielded negative results while two tested positive for coronavirus. The individuals are undergoing quarantine. AAC

QC gov’t warns public vs fixers selling appointment slots for business permit processing

Robie de Guzman   •   February 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The local government of Quezon City on Wednesday called on the public not to patronize fixers or individuals who offer to reserve or sell their appointment slots for securing business permits.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte issued the warning after the city’s Business Permits and Licensing Department (BPLD) noticed that thousands of appointment slots were secured by at least only 10 individuals.

“Wala pong bayad ang appointment system para sa inyong business permit. Please do not transact with fixers who promise to make the process easier for you. Our system is already easy enough, you just have to log in to our QC E-Services Website,” Belmonte said in a statement.

“We will not let opportunists interfere with our online services which do not only provide an efficient option but it also safeguards our transacting public from the coronavirus,” she added.

According to Belmonte, an investigation led by the BPLD revealed that there was a group of individuals who used at least 10 email addresses to secure around 1,000 appointment slots each and spread until end of May, leaving no chance for other business owners to secure a slot for themselves.

Meanwhile, BPLD Chief Margarita Santos said the department has improved its website interface to make the navigation simpler and easier for its users.

A security feature will also be added in the website to help detect if multiple slots have been secured by a single email address.

“We will be rebooting our system by March 1. By then, our system will allow the use of an email address only once at a time. And if the user of the said email address failed to show up on his/her date of appointment thrice, then that email address will be blocked,” Santos said.

Business owners who will be claiming processed business permits but are not able to get an in-person appointment are also encouraged to have the document delivered instead.

“We advise that they book a courier service of their choice and have their permits picked-up from our office. This will definitely cost them much less than paying and buying appointment slots from fixers,” said Santos.

Further reforms such as free delivery and issuance of a temporary electronic copy of the business permit will also be available soon, the city government said.

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