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Uncooperative contacts of Filipino with new COVID-19 variant may face sanctions â DOH
Airline ground staff (L) wearing protective gear work at the counter at the airport in Manila on August 4, 2020.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

Uncooperative contacts of Filipino with new COVID-19 variant may face sanctions — DOH

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - January 15, 2021 - 12:08pm

MANILA, Philippines — The contacts of the country’s first confirmed case of the new and more contagious variant of the coronavirus may face fines or imprisonment if they fail to cooperate with authorities, the Department of Health said Friday.

In a briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said authorities are having difficulty tracking some of the passengers of the Emirates flight EK332, where the 29-year-old real estate agent was aboard from Dubai to Manila on January 7.

Of the 159 passengers in the flight, 13 could not be contacted. Vergeire said some of the numbers were unattended, could not be reached or wrong. Others even rejected the calls of contact tracers.

“If a person does not cooperate with the government, there could be sanctions for this person, especially if he or she is included as one of the contacts. The risk of him or her spreading the disease is also present. They need to understand this and they have to cooperate with the government,” Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act prohibits the non-cooperation of “persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern” as well as of “person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern.”

Those found to have violated the measure will be penalized with a fine between P20,000 and P50,000 or imprisonment of not less than one month but not more than six months. Violators may be punished with both stiff fines and jail time at the discretion of the proper court.

Vergeire said the other passengers of the said flight were able to coordinate continuously with health authorities. They were asked to undergo quarantine.

The family members of the patient as well as the health workers at the isolation center where he was brought and those that took him there were also traced and quarantined, the Quezon City government said.

The case, a resident of Kamuning in Quezon City, flew to the United Arab Emirates on December 27. He was accompanied by his girlfriend, who tested negative upon arrival.

UAE was not included in the list of countries covered by the travel restrictions imposed by the government.

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