Bulacan neighborhood protests presence of isolated COVID-19 patient
PULILAN, Bulacan – Bulacan health officials have been alarmed by cases of discrimination leveled against patients with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), who have been allowed to isolate themselves at home.
The most recent case involves 40 families who wrote the leaders of Barangay (village) Longos in this town to express their objections to the presence there of a 25-year-old woman identified as Patient No. 28.
Patient No. 28, described as a “stay-in worker in Sta. Maria town,” has been residing alone at a relative’s apartment at the village boundary with Barangay Cutcot, after testing positive for the disease on July 20.
“Hindi po kami nasangguni at kami po ay nababahala sa aming kaligtasan. Nagbubukas po ng bintana ang pasyente at natatakot po kaming mahawa (We were not consulted and we now fear for our safety. We are afraid of contamination each time the patient opens her windows),” the residents claimed in the July 25 letter to Longos village chief Armando Tandoy.
The Pulilan municipal health office said Patient No. 28 is scheduled to undergo a second test on Aug. 5 or 6. She was the direct contact of a fellow worker who contracted the virus in Sta. Maria.
Bulacan health officials urged communities to help these patients, not turn them away. Patients who do not exhibit symptoms or who have mild reactions to the disease are allowed to undergo home quarantine, so as not to exhaust hospital resources, said Dr. Joy Gomez, Bulacan public health officer.
“At this point in time, we need the support of the community. The frontliners are tired and weary so every Filipino must do his or her part in the fight against this pandemic,” she said.
Discriminating against COVID-19 patients is also an offense under Provincial Ordinance No. 83-2020, which penalizes acts “which cause stigma, disgrace, shame, humiliation and harassment against any person with confirmed, recovered, probable or suspected cases of the COVID -19 virus including all the frontliners, doctors, nurses, health workers, emergency personnel, volunteers and service workers in public or private hospital.”
Gomez said asymptomatic patients will be kept in government isolation facilities only if their houses are not equipped with separate rooms, and when they pose a risk to senior citizens or pregnant women in the household.
In Balagtas town last week, seven members of a family who were infected with the virus are all undergoing home isolation, including a 69-year-old man, and children aged 3, 7 and 9-years-old.
A century-old woman from Marilao town, a 95-year-old woman from Baliwag town and two children both aged ten-years-old from Bulakan town, were among the newest 123 cases in Bulacan as of July 31.
As of Saturday, Bulacan has recorded a total of 1,473 cases since the start of the pandemic. CARMELA REYES-ESTROPE
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