LGUs, health workers lead isolation strategy vs. coronavirus

By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

July 15, 2020, 12:29 pm

<p>DILG Secretary Eduardo Año. <em>(PNA photo by Joey Razon)</em></p>

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año. (PNA photo by Joey Razon)

MANILA – Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Wednesday clarified that local government units (LGUs) and health authorities would lead the isolation of reported coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) asymptomatic patients and those with mild symptoms.

He said police officers would just assist in ensuring the proper transfer of Covid-19 patients to isolation facilities.

"Ang mangunguna dito 'yung ating LGU at ang public health authority, pangungunahan ito ng city or local epidemiological surveillance unit kasi sila talaga ang mga expert dito. Pati 'yung resulta ng contact tracing, pati kung sino 'yung ite-testing, ililipat o ire-refer sa (The one who will lead here is our LGUs and public health authorities, this will be led by the city of local epidemiological surveillance unit because they are the experts here. They would also decide on the results of the contact tracing, who will be tested, transferred or referred to) hospital," Año said in an interview with GMA morning show Unang Hirit.

He also assured the public that local health officials are well-equipped with the necessary list and well-protected in performing the task.

Año said this practice would only be done in areas placed under a localized lockdown or those with a high number of Covid-19 cases.

To ensure proper implementation of home quarantine, a house should have a designated room for a positive patient, own comfort room and have no elders or vulnerable person living in it, Año explained.

"Kapag kahit isa diyan sa tatlong tanong na yan ay no ang sagot, talagang dapat ilagay siya sa isolation facility whether it is national or managed by the LGUs (If the answer to either of the three questions is no, he/she should be put in an isolation facility whether it is national or managed by the LGUs)," Año said.

Año said that such a move is necessary to extricate the positive patients from their house and be transferred to isolation facilities.

He said the government assured that patients will be isolated, properly fed, and treated for free during their stay at the quarantine facilities, which are equipped with free Wi-Fi and other amenities.

This came as Año claimed that the lax implementation of home quarantine was the cause of community transmission of the disease.

Many of the Covid-19 patients in Metro Manila and Cebu City are under home quarantine, Año said.

In Cebu City, Año said about half of around 4,000 active cases are under home quarantine.

“That is why there was a massive extraction of positive patients there and we put them in isolation facilities," Año noted.

Año called on the public to report to authorities if they know someone showing Covid 19-like symptoms to help the government in containing the spread of the disease.

On Tuesday, National Task Force (NTF) for Covid-19 deputy chief implementer Secretary Vivencio Dizon announced the government launched the "Oplan Kalinga" program which sets home quarantine requirements for coronavirus patients with mild symptoms.

The government, he said, now prefers Covid-19 patients to undergo isolation in the quarantine facilities.

Dizon said this program will help reduce the risks of local transmission.

The program has already started to fetch more than 50 patients in Navotas City and another 40 patients in Malabon City from Sunday to Monday, Dizon said.

The patients, Dizon said, were directly transferred from their houses to state-run mega quarantine centers which include the World Trade Center, Philippine Arena and the Philippine International Convention Center.

Meanwhile, Joint Task Force Covid Shield commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the police would also participate in the program.

Under "Oplan Kalinga", local government units (LGUs) will directly fetch Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms from their homes and will be brought to government quarantine facilities and the program will help reduce the risks of local transmission.

“The police won't automatically knock at your doors. We would wait for guidance from the LGU and the local task force. The health workers will take the lead in this program,” Eleazar said in a radio interview.

Eleazar said authorities want to prevent Covid-19 transmission among individuals whose residences are "ill-equipped" for home quarantine. (PNA)