Palace: No house-to-house search for COVID-19 patients
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Wednesday clarified that there will be no “house-to-house” search for coronavirus patients, and that authorities will only transfer reported patients who are unable to have a proper home quarantine from their homes to government quarantine facilities.
In an interview with ANC, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said COVID-19 patients who will be fetched from their houses must be either reported by their own families, members of the community or the local government units themselves.
“We don’t have a provision for house-to-house. Only the political critics of the government, again, weaponizing this very important task of tracing. They will not go house-to-house,” Roque said.
“They will have to be reported. They will have to be reported by the persons themselves, their family or the barangay,” he added.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said police authorities along with local government units will go house-to-house for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms, adding that home quarantine is no longer allowed if their houses are ill-equipped as isolation facilities.
This drew criticisms from Senator Risa Hontiveros, who likened it to the police’s campaign against illegal drugs, “Oplan Tokhang,” where authorities visit homes of suspected drug users and ask them to surrender.
But in a separate statement, Roque said that police presence is merely to “provide support or assistance in the transport of patients and the implementation of lockdown in the affected area.”
“Now, we prefer that the asymptomatic (patients) and the mild cases voluntarily surrender and isolate themselves in isolation centers. We are enticing them with the fact that these are air-conditioned centers, free lodging, free meals three times a day and with free Wi-Fi,” Roque said.
The Palace official added that the quarantine facilities are also “medical facilities” with doctors and nurses.
Asked what would be the protocol if a COVID-19 patient preferred to stay at home, Roque said: “Sentido common. It’s a very communicable disease. And if they refuse to be isolated, the state, of course, can isolate them.”
While he does not think it will come to this extent, Roque noted that transferring patients to a quarantine facility is part of the “inherent police power of the state,” considering that it is “still promotion of public health.”
“Anywhere in the world, pag merong quarantine, meron dapat i-quarantine, puwede yan kunin ng gobyerno. Let’s not make a big issue out of it especially when we know that studies already indicate that this virus may have already mutated and it’s even more contagious,” Roque said.
(Anywhere in the world, if there’s a person needed to undergo quarantine, the government can take them. Let’s not make a big issue out of it especially when we know that studies already indicate that this virus may have already mutated and it’s even more contagious.)
Earlier, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, co-chair of the government’s COVID-19 task force, earlier discouraged home quarantine for mild COVID-19 patients to prevent further transmission of the disease.
As of Tuesday, the Philippines recorded 57,545 COVID-19 cases nationwide with 1,603 fatalities and 20,459 recoveries.
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