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DOH warning: Penalties for COVID – exposed persons who refuse swab test, quarantine

/ 11:38 AM August 24, 2020

Health workers wait at a COVID-19 testing center at the Palacio de Manila during an enhanced community quarantine to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus on Monday, May 11, 2020 in Manila, Philippines. Several sports and events venues have been converted as quarantine facilities or testing centers as the country tries to cope with the ongoing pandemic. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

MANILA, Philippines — Individuals who have been exposed to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)  and are experiencing symptoms may be held liable if they refuse to undergo mandatory quarantine and swab tests, the Department of Health (DOH) warned on Monday.

In an online media forum, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said those who have been identified by local health authorities to undergo testing or quarantine are mandated to coordinate with the government as cited provided by Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

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“Ating alalahanin na kung ikaw ay tatangging mag-swab o hindi ka makikipag-cooperate sa local health officials, hindi lang naman ikaw ang naapektuhan because this is an infectious disease pwede kang makapanghawa. Pwede mong mahawaan ang iyong pamilya at ang inyong community so kailangang sumunod,” Vergeire said.

(If you refuse a swab test, it is not only you who will be affected,  This is an infectious disease, you can infect your family members and your community, that is why you should cooperate.)

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“At ating alalahanin meron tayong batas tungkol dito. May penalties ito, may sanctions na pwedeng magkaroon ng fine at saka meron din siyang imprisonment,” she added.

(There is a law regarding this. There are penalties – fines and imprisonment.)

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said over the weekend that those exposed to COVID-19 and are showing symptoms can be compelled to undergo mandatory quarantine and swab tests.

This is after Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco raised concern over some residents who refuse to undergo COVID-19 swab tests even if it is for free.

As a general rule, a person cannot be compelled to take a swab test, even if it’s for free, if said person has not been exposed to a COVID-positive person and does not exhibit any symptoms of the disease,” Guevarra said.

“However, a person who has been so exposed and exhibits clear manifestations of the disease may be compelled, in the interest of public health, to undergo swab testing, be mandatorily quarantined, and be medically treated to prevent the further spread of the disease,” he added.

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