MANILA, Philippines — An official from the the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Schools Division in Mandaluyong City has tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the department has confirmed. DepEd said the official graced some events at the National Festival of Talents (NFOT) in Cagayan earlier this month. “As he visited some competition events at the NFOT, we also checked on updates of our precautionary home quarantine of NFOT and NSPC (National Schools Press Conference) delegates,” DepEd said. DepEd earlier pushed through with the conduct of the NFOT and NSPC amid the COVID-19 scare with over 8,000 students and coaches participating in the two annual events. “We are nearing the tail-end of the precautionary home quarantine, and overall we have monitored a small number of participants that were classified as PUIs (persons under investigation) but there is no link that can be established to the patient from Mandaluyong,” DepEd’s statement further read. “We remain hopeful that we will be able to clear the precautionary period without any further incident, in light of the heightened measures we adopted for the NSPC and NFOT,” it added. DepEd assured it is taking the necessary steps for the safety of our learners, teachers, and the public. According to DepEd, the said official, is now confined in a hospital and recovering. “Our field units have provided assistance for his hospitalization,” DepEd said in a statement Thursday. “Within the DepEd community, we have checked on his colleagues with whom he had close contact prior to hospitalization. None of them has exhibited respiratory symptoms so far,” DepEd added. DepEd said it has already coordinated with the Department of Health (DOH) for an extensive contact tracing. “No less than the Secretary of Health has instructed his staff to do an extensive contact tracing as it is still an imperative for an effective containment,” DepEd said. “The DOH will oversee the contact tracing and notification within and outside DepEd following their protocols,” it added. “The health and well-being of our teachers and learners being our highest priority, we will monitor the case closely and follow up on any further developments that may arise."GSG