DOH: Home quarantine least preferred but not banned

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    DESPITE the proposal of the National Task Force against COVID-19 to adopt a strict “no home quarantine” policy, the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday said home quarantine remains allowed for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients.

    In a virtual press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire admitted that home quarantine is the “least preferred” isolation scheme by the government for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.

    “The government now prefers putting and isolating patients and close contacts in our temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMFs), instead of doing home quarantine, in a bid to contain the virus,” said Vergeire.

    “We are now shifting our direction, wherein the government prefers more the use of TTMFs for people to practice isolation,” she added.

    On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said there are initial discussions about the need to enforce a strict “no home quarantine” policy in a bid to further control the spread of COVID-19.

    Año said this is because it is important that infected individuals are taken out of their homes because family members are getting infected of COVID-19.

    According to Vergeire, the TTMFs across the country have an occupancy rate of only 41 percent.

    “As of September 6, we have a total of 167,058 beds in our TTMFs with an overall occupancy rate for the country at 41 percent,” said the official.

    “But, of course, if we look at the disaggregated data, there are regions with higher number of cases that have higher utilization rates,” added Vergeire.

    Having the highest TTMF occupancy rate are the National Capital Region with 59 percent, followed by Bicol Region with 56 percent, and Cagayan Valley with 51 percent.

    On the other hand, those who will still be able to undergo home quarantine are advised to continue practicing minimum health standards.

    “If you are at home, we also advise that you wear masks in order to prevent transmission,” she said.

    “How do we prevent transmission at home? It’s the same: practice minimum health standards,” added Vergeire.

    Currently, COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms or are asymptomatic are allowed to go on home quarantine provided they have a separate room and a separate comfort room, and there are no elderly or vulnerable persons living in the same household.

    Vergeire said that, while there are no available numbers of individuals undergoing home quarantine, they have observed that such a practice is the most preffered by the people.