Senseless government guidelines will kill senior citizens faster than COVID-19

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    AS the country prepares for the lifting, partial or in full, of the lockdown caused by COVID-19, the Commission on Human Rights has appealed to the national government to reconsider its criteria of chronological age for the restriction of movement under the general community quarantine scheme.

    The criteria prohibits older people, or those aged 60 years and above, from going outside their homes in moderate- and low-risk areas for COVID-19.

    Such unthinking guidelines will kill senior citizens faster than the virus.

    CHR said: “A policy solely based on old age runs the risk of disproportionately discriminating older people who need to go outside their homes for essential activities, including work and the procurement of basic goods and services, and those who live alone or with other older family members.

    “A potentially discriminatory policy based solely on age should have no room in health crisis responses, especially when the right to life, health, and adequate standard of living are at risk. We need a human right- and evidence-based approach to dealing with this crisis, which takes into consideration the diversity of the needs of older people in different situations.”

    CHR recommends the relaxation of the rules in the general community quarantine scheme where older people should not be “prohibited” but only “discouraged” from going outside their homes.

    “This not only respects the autonomy of older people to decide for their own, but it would also protect them from the punitive aspects of the enforcement of the community quarantine, “the Commission said.

    A bright senior citizen posted in Facebook what the government should instead do. The title, “Protection, not isolation,” capsulizes what seniors citizens need and what the government should do instead of imposing senseless guidelines. The last line advises authorities to consult the Constitution.

    “Trust senior citizens. We know our responsibility. We are not asking too much. Our actions are accountable. We are keenly aware of the need to protect ourselves and keep others safe.

    “We should be allowed to go where others are allowed to go but we must be protected.

    “Provide us with dedicated and exclusive lanes in groceries, supermarkets, wet markets, banks and drugstores. Install hand sanitizers within reach.

    “Place markers so we can keep distance of a meter or two from others.

    “Allow us to take a brisk walk in peace. In parks, in interior streets, and in other safe outdoor venues. We too need the chance for the sun to bathe us with its healing light.

    “Many senior citizens still need to earn a living. We must be able to go places necessary for our work and livelihood.

    “We will wear a mask when outside, at all times. We will not touch our faces and surfaces, and we will always have alcohol sanitizers on hand.

    “At the first sign of symptoms, we will voluntarily and responsibly self-isolate at home.

    “Please understand, continued isolation at home is cruel and dangerous to mental health.

    “Thank you for your protection. And please consult the equal protection clause of the Constitution.”

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