Outbreak at Quezon City orphanage after 122 contract COVID-19

Dwight de Leon
Outbreak at Quezon City orphanage after 122 contract COVID-19

Janina Malinis/Rappler

(2nd UPDATE) The orphanage insists it has not accommodated visitors for more than a year now. The city's epidemiology office notes a child developed symptoms days after three staff members went out to get vaccinated in August.

An orphanage in Quezon City is grappling with a COVID-19 outbreak after 122 people – 99 of them aged 18 and below – contracted the coronavirus.

The city government reported that 66 of them exhibited symptoms.

Quezon City’s Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) chief Dr. Rolando Cruz said a coronavirus-positive adult who was asymptomatic visited the Gentle Hands Orphanage in Barangay Bagumbuhay and “unknowingly brought the virus,” the QC Public Affairs and Information Services Department said in a press release on Thursday, September 9.

“Kailangang mapanatili ng mga ganitong closed long-term care facilities ang mahigpit na protocols dahil kahit isang kaso lang ang makapasok sa kanila ay madaling mahahawa ang lahat,” Cruz said.

(Closed long-term care facilities should be able to constantly enforce strict COVID-19 protocols because a single case could cause an outbreak.)

Gentle Hands, however, disputed that claim in a statement on Thursday afternoon, saying the orphanage has not accommodated any visitor for the past 540 days.

“It is not true that an asymptomatic visitor spread the virus because we have not received any visitors at all, due to the fact that some of the children are immunocompromised and we have prohibited non-members of the staff from going inside the facility,” it said.

“While it is true that several individuals have tested positive in our facility, the source of the infection is still being traced,” the orphanage added.

On Thursday evening, Cruz gave further details about the cause of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“According to CESU Chief Dr. Rolando Cruz, three male staff allegedly went out of the orphanage to get their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine last August 13. Six days later, one of the children developed symptoms,” the QC PAISD said.

The city government is closely monitoring the patients’ health, and has delivered care kits to them.

Mayor Joy Belmonte has also tasked the CESU to monitor other closed settings such as nursing homes.

Quezon City, the Philippines’ most populous locality, has 11,448 active coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, September 8. –