DOH: Protocol breached in deployment of SONA cops waiting for COVID-19 result

DOH: Protocol breached in deployment of SONA cops waiting for COVID-19 result
Members of the Philippine National Police-Civil Disturbance Management (PNP-CDM), in full battle gear but unarmed, are stationed along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City in preparation for the last state of the nation address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday(July 26, 2021). The PNP deploys 15,000 personnel to secure and maintain peace throughout the duration of Duterte’s final SONA.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health on Thursday said deploying cops awaiting the results of their COVID-19 test for the President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address is a breach of protocol.

“We will say that there was this breach because we have guidelines for that and we know that they should not have been deployed if we still don’t know the results,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said partly in Filipino in a virtual briefing.

The Quezon City Police District on Wednesday said that 82 of their police officers tested positive for COVID-19, and 51 them were part of the security contingent deployed for the SONA.

Per health protocols, all persons awaiting results from swabbing must undergo mandatory quarantine. Any lapses are subject to violations of the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act. 

Vergeire stressed that if testing was done for screening purposes, they should have been quarantined first before they were sent out for deployment to make sure that protocols are not breached.

Contact tracing

The DOH is also not dismissing the possibility that the cops could be super spreaders and reiterated the call for those who may have had contact with them to report to the government.

“It’s a possibility (super spreader), but for now we still cannot tell because we are just assuming that they interacted with many. We still do not have results of contact tracing,” Vergeire added.

She also said the department has been closely coordinating with the Quezon City local government and is conducting contact tracing.

“We advise everybody that if you think you had interaction with the said police in this event, coordinate with your local government so that we can be able to appropriately contact trace all of these individuals,” Vergeire added.

Police General Guillermo Eleazar on Thursday morning announced the relief of Station 3 commander, Police Lt. Col. Cristine Tabdi for assigning 51 cops to the SONA duty despite not having RT-PCR test results yet.

"This should serve as a reminder to all our commanders to exercise prudence and to strictly abide with our existing protocols amid the serious threat of COVID-19, especially with the rising number of infections from the Delta variant," Eleazar said.

The infected cops have since been quarantined in facilities, while the PNP has begun contact tracing its personnel. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Franco Luna


Disclosure: Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte is a shareholder of Philstar Global Corp., which operates digital news outlet Philstar.com. This article was produced following editorial guidelines.

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