CHR exec asks gov’t to reconsider travel restrictions on seniors
MANILA, Philippines – An official of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has pleaded to the national government to reconsider the travel restrictions imposed on senior citizens as not all of them have someone younger to do the errands for them.
CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit on Monday said the government should understand that not all senior citizens should be considered vulnerable to possible infection with the latest coronavirus strain, as not everyone would have ailments or have poor health.
“The older population is a heterogeneous group and the risks they face vary depending on different, sometimes compounded, factors such as their physical health (existence of comorbidity) […] Not all older people have pre-existing health conditions and have poor health that make them vulnerable to being severely infected with the novel coronavirus,” Dumpit said.
“We recommend 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,” she added.
Under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) regulations, senior citizens are not allowed to leave their homes to protect them from contracting COVID-19 — as most of the patients in the country and other areas are aged 60 and above.
People living in areas where an ECQ exists have noted that seniors were really barred from leaving their houses, but the CHR official insisted that it was not appropriate for a ban to be solely based on the age.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año previously explained that senior citizens who are living on their own should obtain quarantine passes if they live on their own. However, people have reported instances — some of them sent to INQUIRER. net — when seniors were not allowed to leave even if they could do so on their own.
Dumpit said that such regulations might ay be discriminatory of older people who would need to leave their homes for activities like buying grocery items.
“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,” Dumpti noted.
“We need a human rights- and evidence-based approach to dealing with this crisis, which takes into consideration the diversity of the needs of older people in different situations,” she said.
As of now, the ECQ over Luzon and other areas are still in place. While the ECQ for other areas will end by April 30, other localities like the National Capital Region would see 15 more days of the lockdown.
As of this writing, the Department of Health has confirmed 7,777 COVID-19 patients nationwide, of whom 511 have died and 932 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 2.9 million individuals have been infected, while at least 206,502 have died from the disease and over 834,656 have recovered from it.
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