Mary Mallon, better known as “Typhoid Mary,” gained infamy in the history of public health in the United States for having infected directly or indirectly hundreds of people with typhoid fever because of her work as a cook for wealthy families in New York during the 1900s. She was later diagnosed as an asymptomatic carrier of the disease, although she kept denying her condition for way too long.

During this holiday season, the Philippines may have found its own version of “Typhoid Mary”: a woman named Gwyneth Anne Chua. Instead of observing the mandatory five-day isolation period after arriving from the United States, Chua managed to sneak out of Berjaya Hotel in Makati City to attend several Christmas gatherings. According to the Department of Tourism, Chua was diagnosed positive for COVID-19 last December 27 together with others who were with her during the parties. She has since been transfered to another quarantine facility.

In a statement released January 1, the hotel acknowledged the breach of quarantine protocols in Chua’s case and vowed to cooperate with the investigation being done by the government as to how she was able to skip the mandatory isolation requirement.

Gwyneth Chua - Hotel Berjaya
Hotel Berjaya in Makati City has confirmed that Gwyneth Chua did not submit herself to the mandatory five-day isolation period for returning Filipinos.

Chua can be held liable for violating section 9.e. of Republic Act 11332 or the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act of 2018.” The provision penalizes “non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern” with a fine of as much as P50,000 and imprisonment of up to six months.

Chua also appeared to violate Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code which covers “Resistance and disobedience to a person in authority or the agents of such person.” Here, she can be fined as much as P100,000 and be imprisoned for six months as well. It is hoped that she will be dealt with the full extent of the law.

The rage directed against Chua is perfectly understandable. For nearly two years now, Filipinos have accepted significant restrictions to our individual liberties in the name of helping in the fight against COVID-19. Unlike in the United States and European countries, the Philippines never saw massive protests against the lockdowns and the mask mandates. We also followed the requirement to wear face shields!

However, the fact that Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and retired Philippine National Police Director General Debold Sinas never really faced accountability for violating COVID protocols are is still very much in the public’s consciousness should make the national government determined not to let Chua off the hook,

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