Recto: Bad messaging duds goal of house-to-house search for virus patients

/ 07:19 PM July 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — “Minsan maganda ang layunin, sabit lang ang pagpapaliwanag.”

(Sometimes the purpose is good, but the messaging is a failure.)


This was how Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto saw the government’s plan to task policemen and local government personnel to fetch mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients from their houses.

In a statement on Wednesday, the senator said health-related announcements “are better left to doctors” in order to avoid confusion.


“If the nation is the patient, let those trained to have good bedside manners announce the treatment. We have to choose and curate the words we use, so nothing will be lost in translation and transmission,” Recto said.

“We should do it in a language so clear that it will move the nation as one to compliance, instead of through unclear statements that trigger ridicule or resistance,” he added.

The senator underscored the need to divide tasks, especially on communications, in the government’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Pwede naman kasing sabihin sa mga nag-positive, pero kulang ang pasilidad sa bahay, ‘Iimbitahan po namin kayo na doon na lang sa mga komportable, may pagkain, may Wi-Fi na isolation facilities muna manatili, para na rin po sa mga mahal ninyo sa buhay’,” he added.

(The type of messaging for those who tested positive for the virus, but whose house is ill-equipped for isolation should be: ‘We will invite you to stay in isolation facilities, which are comfortable, have enough food, and equipped with Wifi. This is to protect your loved ones as well).

Recto also said that should a person test positive for the new coronavirus, their address and contact details should be recorded to “cancel” the need for “boots on the ground to do a house-to-house sweep.”

Further, the senator said the task to fetch the patients from their homes should be conducted by personnel donned in personal protective equipment (PPE) and not those who are in “full battle gear.”


“’Yung pagsundo din is a medical exercise, by people donning full PPE, following safety protocols, para hindi rin mag-bahay-bahay si corona, and not by those in full battle gear, because it is wrong to assume that these law-abiding citizens will resist relocation,” Recto said.

(The task to fetch patients is a medical exercise, by people donning full PPE, following safety protocols, so that we can prevent the ‘house-to-house’ spread of the coronavirus, not by those in full battle gear, because it is wrong to assume that these law-abiding citizens will resist relocation).

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said that police officers and local government personnel will be visiting households to search for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms so that they can be transferred to disease monitoring facilities to avoid the further spread of the virus.

Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, later clarified that policemen will only assist local health workers in fetching the patients.

Eleazar issued this clarification amid concerns that the said policy could be prone to abuse and may discourage people from reporting their health status.

Malacañang also stressed that there will be no “house-to-house” search for coronavirus patients.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that before COVID-19 patients can be fetched from their houses, they must be either reported by their own families, members of the community, or the local government units.

To date, the Philippines has 58,850 COVID-19 cases nationwide, including 1614 fatalities and 20,976 recoveries.


For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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