SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – At least 18 of the 20 identified close contacts exposed during an event in San Juan town, La Union province to the two close contacts of Gwyneth Chua have tested positive of COVID-19, according to town Mayor Arturo Valdriz.
The 20 individuals were at a benefit concert for victims of Typhoon “Odette” (Rai) at Kermit La Union, a resto-bar at a food complex in Urbiztundo village in San Juan town on December 29, 2021, said Valdriz.
Chua, who was called by netizens “Poblacion girl” after skipping mandatory hotel quarantine after she arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on December 22, attended a party in Poblacion village in Makati City before testing positive for COVID-19.
Doctor Rheuel Bobis, COVID-19 focal person of the DOH in the Ilocos region, said on Monday, January 10 that “majority” of the 20 close contacts did not display symptoms of the contagious disease. They were a part of the “initial report” from the town’s health officials, said Bobis.
The incident prompted Valdriz to issue an executive order dated January 7 for the temporary closure of all establishments and restaurants at the renowned “Surfing Area” in the town which straddles the Urbiztondo beach. The temporary closure which started January 8 is supposed to last for 15 days.
The closure was meant to make way for “contact tracing and give ample time for thorough disinfection of the business establishments,” said Valdriz.
The results of the genome sequencing of Chua’s swab sample came out on Friday but the Department of Health said it could not disclose whether she was a carrier of the Omicron variant as it could violate Republic Act 11332 on the disclosure of notifiable diseases and the Data Privacy Act.
While under lockdown, the mayor said that all employees of establishments in the surfing area would be required to undergo mandatory RT-PCR testing and strict home quarantine, including tricycle drivers who were stationed at Urbiztondo terminals.
“All confirmed cases shall be isolated at any available isolation facility in the town,” said Valdriz.
Only authorized persons are allowed to stay at the surfing area, including private individuals such as local fishermen and joggers. All public and private events in the entire town had been banned by Valdriz to contain the spread of the disease.
As of January 10, the town had 48 active COVID-19 cases, according to local data.
Residents, regardless of vaccination status, could only go around the town for “essential movements.” Checkpoints had been placed by the Philippine National Police and village officials of Urbiztondo to monitor the movements of individuals.
On January 3, La Union confirmed that the presence of the Omicron variant had not yet been detected in the province. – Rappler.com
John Michael Mugas is a Luzon-based journalist and is a recipient of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.