The Department of Health (DoH) on Wednesday backed the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the mandatory facility-based isolation for mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases amid calls to review its policies.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that this is after findings that home quarantine was not an effective method in suppressing the spread of the virus, especially within family members.
“They saw that our home quarantine is not effective for us to control the transmission of the disease because many of those in home quarantine have no appropriate environment which we can say really isolates them from infecting their families,” she said in a media forum.
Vergeire explained that by staying in temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMF) patients will be more monitored by other health workers.
“If you are a confirmed, positive or close contact our preferred means of quarantining or isolation is the TTMF because the environment there is appropriate,” she added.
On the other hand, she also confirmed that the government will be prioritizing the underprivileged and vulnerable individuals in allotting the facilities.
Those with comorbidities are likewise advised to stay within the treatment facilities to be adequately monitored as they recover from the coronavirus disease.
However, Vergeire clarified that it is only the most preferred measure by officials and that home quarantine is still an option provided that all measures will be met which includes having their own room with restroom.
Home isolation will also be allowed if the treatment facility in their local community or in the region is already at full capacity.
Although the DoH also acknowledged that there is a possibility that with this new policy, patients may choose not to disclose their symptoms to avoid being sent to these facilities.
This was pointed out by members of the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) as they urged to revisit the policies and explain to infected individuals that they have the right to choose.
“I do not disagree (to HPAAC) because that is a possibility that was actually discussed during the IATF meeting. The experts were there and they said this is one of the disadvantages that may happen but really we just need to explain it properly to the public,” she said.
Vergeire stressed that the public has nothing to fear in staying within these facilities as they assure that all patients will be monitored in their two-week stay.
On Tuesday, various groups sought for a review of the guidelines included in the new policy as they mentioned a few factors which are affected by it specifically on dependent family members and on their hampered livelihood.