HOME quarantine is no longer advisable for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients with mild or asymptomatic symptoms, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said yesterday.
Nograles, who is the co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said the government is now discouraging home treatment and would prefer all patients, notwithstanding the severity of their cases, to complete their quarantines in health and isolation facilities to prevent local transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Nograles said home quarantine exposes family members to the virus carried by the positive patient even if they are isolated in a separate room.
“We are now discouraging iyung tinatawag na mag-home quarantine. Dapat po sa facility quarantine. Ang dangerous kasi sa home quarantine, magkakahawahan, mas malaki ang chance na magkahawahan doon sa kanilang pamilya o kung saan siya nakatira (We are now discouraging going on home quarantine. It should be in a quarantine facility. What is dangerous in a home quarantine, is they can be transmitted or there is a big chance that it will be transmitted to their family members or in area where they live),” Nograles said in an interview with radio DzBB.
He said are still a lot of available beds in government quarantine facilities that can accommodate mild and asymptomatic patients. Severe and critical patients are confined in hospitals.
Malacañang last week said 72 percent of the bed capacity in government quarantine facilities remains available, while there are some 28,000 beds available in hospitals. Of the 8,400 hospital beds allotted for COVID-19 patients in Metro Manila, only 3,602 are occupied.
The IATF reminded local government units (LGUs) localized quarantines should be observed for 14 days and not a day less.
Nograles pointed out the incubation period for COVID-19 takes days, which should be considered in declaring localized quarantines.
He said the IATF on Saturday met with several mayors via Zoom and reminded them that the national government usually decides and imposes different quarantine levels for cities, provinces and regions every 15 days or during the 15th and 30th of the month.
Nograles emphasized the importance of coordination between LGUs and the national government in monitoring and controlling the spread of the COVID-19 especially in areas with a high number of cases.
“Nandun naman iyung powers ng ating mga local government units, ang ating mga mayors, or mga governors, kapag nagco-community quarantine sila sa component cities, ganu’n din, hindi puwedeng three days, seven days, or two days. Dapat kung maghihigpit ka doon sa isang barangay, dapat 14 days (The powers of local government units are there, the mayors, or governors, if they would implement a community quarantine for component cities. It cannot be just for three days, seven days, or two days. If you would restrict a barangay, it should be for 14 days),” he said.
Nograles also reminded the public to continue observing minimum health protocols such as wearing face masks, frequent hand washing, and observing social distancing regardless if you are in an area that is under the more relaxed general community quarantine or modified general community quarantine.
He said even if the restriction is already at GCQ or MGCQ level, the virus is still present.
Meanwhile, Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar urged local executives to pass and implement local ordinances mandating strict observance of health protocols such as the wearing of facemasks and observance of proper physical distancing to stop the further spread of the coronavirus.
Eleazar said preventive measures have been effective in containing the disease and what is needed is to sustain the enforcement of quarantine rules especially in areas placed under the general community quarantine and modified GCQ.
He said based on observations and on some social media posts, some people in GCQ and MGCQ areas have started being complacent on quarantine rules.
Eleazar said the police, military, and other law enforcement agencies are not enough to guard the entire country and as such, the government needs all the manpower to remind the public in observing minimum health safety protocols.
“This is the part when enforcement should be beefed up in order to remind and warn people that the threat of coronavirus infection is still there, and this is where LGUs play a key role especially at the barangay level,” Eleazar said.
He said barangay watchmen and the LGU’s public order and safety personnel have been proven to be effective partners in the maintenance of peace and order in their community, hence, the same template could be utilized to shield their respective communities from COVID-19 infection.
Nograles said the IATF would meet today to discuss the current different quarantine levels in various parts of the country, including Cebu City which is under the enhanced community quarantine, and Metro Manila which is under the GCQ.
He said the situation in Cebu City had already been improving.
He said the IATF would submit its recommendations to President Duterte on the current quarantine levels tentatively by Monday. The current community quarantine impositions are in effect until July 15, Wednesday.
Nograles refused to say if the IATF would recommend a downgrading of the community quarantine especially in Metro Manila which is the center of commerce in the country.
He said what would be considered instead is the capacity of a local government and the speed of response of local officials to contain the virus and treat the patients.
“So iyong mga options, may two options dito – pwedeng MGCQ kung mabilis ang mayor, o GCQ muna para para bigyan ng panahong masanay ang mayor na kumilos (So the options, there are two options here – downgrade to MGCQ if the mayor acts fast, or remain under GCQ to give the mayor time to get used to providing quick response),” he said.
As of Saturday, the Philippines has 54,222 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 14,037 recoveries and 1,372 deaths. – With Raymond Africa