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122 sick with COVID-19 from outbreak at Quezon City orphanage

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
122 sick with COVID-19 from outbreak at Quezon City orphanage
The Gentle Hands Orphanage in Barangay Bagumbahay in Quezon City is under lockdown after a virus outbreak that led to 122 infections.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:30 p.m.) — An orphanage in Quezon City dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak disputed reports that an asymptomatic visitor was responsible for bringing in the virus to their facility. 

The QC local government earlier today said 122 children and staff of the Gentle Hands Orphanage in Barangay Bagumbahay contracted the coronavirus. 

Most of the cases or 99 are children below 18 years old. That's an age group that has been seeing more infections and hospitalizations, but has yet to be included in vaccination efforts in the country.

The orphanage's executive director confirmed several individuals caught the disease, but said the source of infection is still being traced. 

Orphanage: No visitors received

"We have not received any visitors at all," said Charity Graff in a statement, "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."

Her comments, as reported by ABS-CBN News, came after a city health official said an asymptomatic adult who allegedly visited the orphanage led to the outbreak. 

"Closed long-term care facilities such as this have to follow strict protocols because it will only take a single case to immediately infect many," said Dr. Rolando Cruz, who heads QC's epidemiology and surveillance unit, said in Filipino.

Graff said they were directed not to make public the situation, but "recent inaccurate news, made without verification with us, have left us no choice but to publicly clarify matters."

She maintained they have kept strict health protocols, and had "actually been quarantined for 540 days."

Graff continued that no personnel had been going in or out apart from the need to go home for vaccinations last August.

QC's public information office said 66 of the patients are symptomatic, while 77 are not showing signs of the virus.

The city government did not disclose information on the severity of the patients' COVID-19 and if they were taken to isolation facilities or to hospitals.

But in Graff's statement, she said the patients are showing varying degrees of symptoms that are also being managed. 

"Nobody is suffering from respiratory distress," she added.

The local government has since tasked health authorities to monitor the patients' condition. It also ordered surveillance of similar closed settings such as nursing homes. 

Mayor Joy Belmonte said her office has also sent health kits and food packs to the facility. 

"We will continue to expand our swab testing and contact tracing program to reach high-risk closed facilities," she added in Filipino. 

Figures on September 8 showed QC has 11,448 active COVID-19 cases. — with reports from Franco Luna

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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.

JOY BELMONTE QUEZON CITY
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