Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte ordered stricter security measures in hotels serving as quarantine facilities for Returning Filipino Workers (RFWs) or Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who arrived from countries with known cases of B117 variant or high levels of COVID-19 community transmission.

Belmonte also asked the Quezon City Police District to study the possibility of assigning police officers outside these hotels to ensure that everyone complies with the 14-day quarantine period.

“Now that the DOH confirmed the presence of the new strain in several places of the country, the more we need to double our efforts in preventing the spread of the virus. If need be, we can tap our police officers to man these hotels so we can prevent returning Filipinos from leaving without finishing the government-mandated quarantine period,” Belmonte said.

The Quezon City government will also intensify its inspection of hotels and other establishments to monitor their adherance to health and safety protocols.

“We are leaving no stone unturned to guarantee that every hotel operating in the city is implementing the health and safety guidelines to the letter,” said Tetta Tirona, action officer of the City Tourism Department (CTD).

Based on national and local health and safety guidelines, only four- and five-star hotels accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) may accept “staycation” guests.

The rest of the hotels and other similar establishments are only allowed to accept long-term bookings and health care workers for accommodation near their workplace.

During their monitoring on Jan. 18, Tirona said the CTD discovered that three of the five establishments they visited have stringent quarantine protocols.

The City Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (CESU) meanwhile required these hotels to submit to the city the list of RFWs and OFWs staying with them for strict daily monitoring.

CESU head Dr. Rolando Cruz also reiterated that all RFWs and OFWs staying in hotels are required to finish the 14-day quarantine before they will be allowed to go home, regardless if they test positive or negative of COVID-19 upon arrival in the country.

“We will not allow them to go home or continue their   quarantine at home. It’s part of our protocol to ensure the safety of everyone,” said Cruz.

Mayor Belmonte, for her part, said the CTD will conduct unannounced visits to more hotels and other similar establishments. to ensure that protocols are strictly followed.

“Nais nating makatiyak na hindi tayo napalulusutan ng mga hotel na ito sa pagtanggap ng mga bisita na labas sa itinatakda ng ating protocols,” said Belmonte.

Meanwhile, Belmonte announced that Quezon City now has zero case of the Covid-19 variant B.1.1.7 or the U.K. variant at this time, with the full recovery of the city’s first index case and based on the samples sent by the city to the Philippine Genome Center.

The male resident was already allowed to go home yesterday afternoon, a day after he tested negative for the virus.

“Our doctors in our HOPE facility declared that he is finally recovered. They gave him clearance to go home so he was allowed to leave the facility yesterday afternoon. He will continue to be monitored by our health officials,” said Belmonte.

His mother and girlfriend have also tested negative for the UK variant of the virus, as confirmed by the DOH and the Philippine Genome Center.

“Patuloy na imo-monitor ng mga doktor ang kanilang kalagayan, at tatapusin na lamang ang kanilang quarantine sa isolation facility bago sila payagang umuwi,” said Belmonte.

As it turned out, the city’s first index case is not the country’s first following the confirmation made by the Department of Health that the UK variant has been in the Philippines as early as December 2020.

At a briefing Saturday, the DOH said that the sample of one of the 16 new cases detected with the UK variant was collected on December 10, 2020. The QC resident was tested Covid-19 positive upon his return from Dubai on January 7.