99 kids infected in QC orphanage

Ninety-nine children aged 18 and below from a Quezon City orphanage tested positive for COVID-19, the city government said Thursday, as the country reported another record of 22,820 new infections in a single day.

99 kids infected in QC orphanage
Facade of the virus-infected halfway house Gentle Hands Orphanage in Quezon City.

Twenty-three others, presumably personnel at the Gentle Hands Orphanage in Barangay Bagumbuhay in Quezon City, also were infected, said Dr. Rolly Cruz, chief of the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU).

Cruz said an asymptomatic adult could have unknowingly brought the virus during a visit but managers of the orphanage said it allows no visitors.

“Closed long-term care facilities such as this should be able to strictly impose the protocols because even a single entry of a positive case may already infect everyone,” Cruz said.

Mayor Joy Belmonte said the city government immediately sent paracetamol, vitamins, hygiene kits, face masks, alcohol, and food packs to the orphanage.

She ordered the CESU to closely monitor everyone’s health, especially the children, and also conduct active surveillance of all the other closed-setting facilities in the city such as nursing homes.

Belmonte reiterated her call for the strict implementation and observance of minimum health and safety protocols, especially since COVID-19 cases are rising due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Belmonte added that the outbreak could have been prevented and “the children could have been saved from the life-threatening risks of Covid-19 [if the health protocols have been strictly observed]”.

The city government had ordered swab tests for 143 people from the Gentle Hands Orphanage, which yielded 118 positive results, plus four index cases.

Testing was conducted on Sept. 6 and the results were released the following day.

The orphanage, meanwhile, denied Cruz’s assertion that the outbreak was caused by a visitor.

“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,” executive director Charity Graff said in a statement.

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

She said no patient “is suffering from respiratory distress.”

She also said they have been following strict health protocols “beyond the minimum” to safeguard the children and their personnel.

Those staying within the facility are under quarantine for 540 days, she said, adding that they did not allow any person to go in or out of the orphanage prior to the vaccination of their personnel last August.

“In the discussion with the Quezon City government, we were directed not to disclose the situation publicly, and we have faithfully complied with this directive. However, recent inaccurate news, made without verification with us, have left us no choice but to publicly clarify matters. We are very concerned because we are a child-caring agency and we have exerted all efforts to protect the privacy of our children,” the private organization’s statement read.

The Philippines logged a new record high in its daily tally of COVID-19 cases on Thursday with 22,820 fresh infections.

The tally surpassed Monday’s total of 22,415 new daily cases and brought the total number of infections to 2,161,892.

The Department of Health said cases may still increase within the next few days.

The DOH also corrected Wednesday’s data, reporting an additional 5,132 cases that were not included.

This brought the total cases on Sept. 8 to 17,883 instead of the earlier reported 12,751, the DOH said Thursday.

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