A hotel in Makati City is under investigation following reports that it allowed a guest who came from the United States to skip quarantine protocols to attend a party where about 15 people who came in close contact with her tested positive for COVID-19.
In a Teleradyo interview, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año identified the guest as a certain Gwyneth Chua.
He said Chua had dinner in a restaurant and went to a bar after, reportedly in the Poblacion area.
“The problem is that the people she was with for dinner and at the bar have already tested positive for COVID-19. About 15 have tested positive already,” the Interior chief said.
In a separate interview Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the woman who skipped quarantine at Berjaya Hotel Makati already admitted to violating health protocols.
“She admitted that she cut quarantine,” Romulo-Puyat said.
Año said he is hoping Chua is not an Omicron case.
“I hope it is not an Omicron case because the variant is really transmissible. We are still waiting for her genome sequence results. All those who got into close contact with her must get tested,” he said.
He said Berjaya Makati Hotel can be held liable for failing to prevent their guest from leaving their premises.
“Was she allowed to leave? Is there a personnel at the hotel who was on the take to allow her to leave or did she leave on her own? I have heard several stories of guests cutting quarantine and returning only when it is their turn to be tested,” the Cabinet official added.
Individuals found violating quarantine protocols may face penalties and imprisonment, she said.
“Failure to comply with the health and safety protocols of the DOT, the Department of Health (DOH), or the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) may lead to criminal penalties of fines and/or imprisonment, and administrative penalties such as suspension or revocation of accreditation depending on the gravity of the offense,” Romulo-Puyat said.
The DOH said skipping quarantine protocols set by the IATF upon arrival in the country is punishable by law.
The DOH noted that non-adherence to these rules is a violation of the Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act of 2018.
“We remind everyone to exert utmost care in participating gatherings or organizing gatherings particularly when it will involve individuals who have recent travel or exposure history,” the DOH said.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri bewailed the use of connections and money to avoid the required isolation.
He said this was “irresponsible, illegal and unforgivable.”