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Home stay a mistake

Francis Wakefield

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A requirement for individuals with symptoms of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to practice self-quarantine at home may have contributed to the spike in infections, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) admitted yesterday.

Now, the agency tasked to craft policies and plans to beat the outbreak said it is advising against home quarantine.

Cabinet Secretary and IATF co-chairman Karlo Nograles said on Sunday that, as much as possible, persons who were tested positive of the virus but are asymptomatic or has mild cases should instead be isolated in government quarantine facilities.

“Home quarantine is one way of transmitting the virus among members of the households,” he indicated.

“We are also shifting our focus to those who are asymptomatic. Will give priority on facility quarantine. Anyway, we still have many COVID facilities which can accommodate mild cases. So that will be our focus not on home quarantine. If there are cases they should be in a quarantine facility,” Nograles advised.

As part of the government’s contact tracing efforts, the first question that is asked to the person who turned out positive of the virus is where he or she lives. He said some of those interviewed has a permanent residence and a second residence.

“We need to know what is your present address if you are COVID-19 positive. We will ask what is your present address. Of course, if we will attribute the case to this particular city, it’s because of the present address,” the official explained.

As part of second phase of the government’s National Action Plan (NAP) to beat COVID-19, Nograles said local government units (LGU) will be required to be more involved in the efforts.

Granular approach

Nograles indicated the government is moving towards localizing its approach. Mayors should be more involved.

“In fact, the IATF had a meeting with Metro Manila mayors via zoom for us to really compare notes in their jurisdictions. One of the topics raised is that there should be localized community quarantines or lockdowns,” he said citing the mechanics of the recovery program.

The Palace official, however, said the IATF is also reminding LGU that community quarantines should be done for 14 days and not for only two to five days as practiced in some barangays to ensure that they can effectively eradicate the threat of COVID-19 within their community.

“So what we are telling our mayors is that if they will conduct community quarantines in their barangays, it should not just be two days, three days or even five days of quarantine. It should be a minimum of 14 days,” he explained.

DDay on 16 July

Nograles said the IATF will hold a meeting on Monday, 14 July, to determine what kind of quarantine status Metro Mania and other areas of the country will be by 16 July.

Regardless of IATF’s recommendation, it will still be up to President Rodrigo Duterte to make the final decision, Nograles said.

He raised the possibility of Metro Mania moving up to an MGCQ but this will depend on how fast the localized response of the LGU will be in case of spikes in contamination.

“Let’s just wait for the President. We will still have a meeting tomorrow and we will give our recommendation to the President. It will be up to him to decide,” Nograles suggested.

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