Makati probes case of nurse evicted over COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — The Makati City government would investigate the case of a nurse who was evicted from a boarding house after she tested positive for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“[Mayor Abby Binay has] ordered an immediate investigation into this report. She wishes to remind everyone that there is an ordinance that prohibits and penalizes all forms of discrimination against persons with infectious diseases, as well as front-liners and nurses,” city legal officer Michael Camiña said on Monday.
“Moreover, Makati has existing facilities and protocols to handle COVID-19 cases. It is unfortunate that this happened to the nurse in this case,” he added.
City Ordinance No. 2020-087, approved on April 8, prohibits any act of discrimination, including forced eviction, restrictions on housing or lodging, against any person suspected or infected not only with COVID-19, but also other communicable diseases.
Violators face a P5,000 fine on the first and second offenses, with an additional one-year jail term on succeeding offenses.
The nurse—a customer care representative of a medical insurance company — was found by Philippine Red Cross (PRC) personnel sitting on the sidewalk near the corner of J.P. Rizal Street and South Avenue on Aug. 5. She was later taken to a quarantine facility at the Quezon Institute in Quezon City.
In an interview on ABS-CBN Teleradyo on Sunday, “Gem” said she told her landlady on Aug. 2 that she had COVID-19 based on the results of swab tests done at work.
After being told she must leave before her roommates come home, Gem said she immediately left.
“I wanted to go home to Batangas, but there was no transportation because of the lockdown. My family could not pick me up either because I needed to test negative before I could go there,” she added.
After failing to find a place to stay in Makati, she checked into a hotel in Pasay. Two days later, she went back to Barangay Olympia where she used to rent to ask for help from the health center.
“But when I went there, they told me that the barangay health center was closed and they could not help me,” Gem said.
Informed by Gem’s friend about the nurse’s situation, Dr. Zenaida Beltejar, PRC welfare services consultant, went to the area and said she saw Gem seated on the sidewalk.
Poor treatment“I cried because that’s not how we should treat a nurse who contracted the virus. How many displaced nurses are out there in the streets?” she added.
Sen. Richard Gordon, PRC chair, urged national and local government officials to put in place policies to prevent a similar situation.
“This is a story of discrimination. We should not do this to our fellow Filipinos. We should help all people,” he said.
According to the Department of Health’s data as of Aug. 3, there were 5,153 healthcare workers infected with COVID-19. Of these, 39 have died and 4,692 have recovered.
As of Aug. 9, Barangay Olympia had recorded 126 confirmed cases with 80 of these active.
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