An orphanage in Quezon City is welcoming donations of food and other necessities after it was hit by COVID-19.
Gentle Hands, a Christian social welfare agency in Cubao, asked for the public to pray for the children and staff in the residential care facility following the incident.
The institution said that prior to the outbreak, it has not been receiving visitors for more than 500 days already.
“After 540 days of strict quarantine during this pandemic, (with no visitors at all) we were quite shocked to find our home positive for COVID,” the orphanage said on a Facebook post on Thursday.
It added that food and other necessities “will be welcome” as they are on “total lockdown.”
Source of infection ‘being traced’
The orphanage on Thursday afternoon also refuted reports saying that an asymptomatic visitor was responsible for bringing in the virus to the facility.
The local government of Quezon City earlier said in a press release that 122 individuals have tested positive, including children.
They comprised 99 of the cases, the report said.
It also included a statement from Dr. Rolando Cruz, chief of the City Epidemiological Surveillance Unit (CESU).
“Kailangang mapanatili ng mga ganitong closed long-term care facilities ang mahigpit na protocols dahil kahit isang kaso lang ang makapasok sa kanila ay madaling mahahawa ang lahat,” he said.
It was also reported that the city public information office said 66 of the patients are symptomatic while 77 are not showing signs of the viral disease.
In response to the reports, Gentle Hands executive director Charity Graff said that while there were “several individuals” who have tested positive, the “source of infection is still being traced.”
“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,” she said in a statement released by ABS-CBN News.
“We have followed strict health protocols beyond the minimum to protect each and every staff and child, and have actually been quarantined for 540 days. Prior to the staff needing to go out of the home for vaccinations in August 2021, we had no person going in or out,” Graff added.
She said that while “the patients are exhibiting varying degrees of symptoms,” it is being managed and that “nobody is suffering from respiratory distress.”
“We assure all concerned that GHI has the proper protocols and training to address situations such as these. We appreciate the immediate assistance extended by certain individuals and the swab testing conducted by the QC government. We appreciate your prayers as we deal with this situation,” Graff added.
The local government has since tasked health authorities to closely monitor the patients’ conditions and to do active surveillance of other closed settings such as nursing homes.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said that her office has likewise sent paracetamol, vitamins, hygiene kits, face masks, alcohol and food packs to the orphanage.
“Patuloy nating papalawigin ang ating swab testing at contact tracing program para maabot ang mga gaya nitong high-risk closed facilities,” she said.
As of September 9, the city has 11,702 active cases of COVID-19.
Gentle Hands is an institution that provides family-style care for children who have experienced trauma. It is a refuge for children in crisis and those who have been abandoned.
According to its website, the orphanage shelters children who have been in physical danger, those severely ill, malnourished, abandoned, sexually and/or physically abused, and those in other crisis situations as a result of poverty, uncaring family environments and other related problems.
It serves as a temporary facility until the child can be reunited with their family, transferred to a long-term care facility, be placed in foster care or when adoption is facilitated.
Disclosure: Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte is a shareholder of Philstar Global Corp., which operates digital news outlet Interaksyon. This article was produced following editorial guidelines.