Transfer of COVID-19 patients to quarantine centers for treatment is ‘urgent, necessary’ – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   July 17, 2020   •   731

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has stressed that transferring patients with novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) under the government’s “Oplan Kalinga” program is “urgent and necessary not only to closely monitor and treat them but also for the good of the community.”

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the move is plainly to ensure that COVID-19 patients will be attended to and that they will not spread the virus to their families and the community.

“Kapag nasa Ligtas Centers sila, mas mababantayan at maaalagaan sila doon at higit sa lahat, maliit na ang chance na maikalat nila ang virus sa kanilang pamilya,” he said.

He also reiterated that the program will be led by local government officials and health workers and that police will only assist in transporting the patients to quarantine facilities.

He added that reports stating that the government troops will conduct a “house-to-house search” in a police-type operations are fake news.

Año said that local health workers will not do “house-to-house” as not all not all households will be visited by the team headed by the local government unit’s (LGUs) Local Epidemiological Surveillance Units (LESU) “but only those listed in those COVID positive in the community.”

 “Hindi po natin uubusin ang oras ng ating LESU sa pag-isa-isa ng mga bahay ng mga tao. Ito po ay fake news. Tanging yung mga na-test po na positive na kasama sa kanilang listahan lamang at hindi makakapag-comply sa minimum requirement para payagang makapag-home quarantine ang ating dadalhin sa mga Ligtas Center,” he said.

The DILG chief emphasized that coronavirus-infected patients will be brought to Ligtas Centers as a precautionary measure to curtail transmission and to ensure that they are well taken care of as these isolation centers are equipped to handle their medical needs as opposed to practicing home quarantine.

He assured that food and all other needs of the patients transferred to quarantine facilities will be provided for.

“Ito ang siguradong paraan para mabantayan natin at matalo natin ang virus na ito,” he said.

The move comes after the government’s task force against COVID-19 issued guidelines for the conduct of home quarantine.

The task force earlier said that patients showing mild flu-like symptoms or asymptomatic are allowed to do home quarantine if he/she has a separate room where the patient can be confined; if the patient has his own comfort room; and if he is not living with people who are vulnerable to COVID-19 such as senior citizen and immunocompromised individuals, among others.

If these protocols cannot be observed at home, then the patient must be brought to a local quarantine facility.

“Ito po ay tungkulin ng inyong pamahalaan sa ating mga mamamayan na naaayon sa batas lalo na ngayong panahon ng krisis at kayo ay lumalaban sa isang pandemia. Makipagtulungan po tayo sa gobyerno dahil ang kapakanan at kalusugan ng buong komunidad na ang nakasalalay,” Año said.

13 contacts of Filipino with UK variant, positive for COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Wednesday (January 20) that eight of the co-passengers of the male case of UK variant of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) who arrived from Dubai also tested positive for COVID-19.

All eight, who are Filipino nationals, were immediately quarantined upon arrival and were transported to the isolation facilities right after the result of the RT-PCR tests were released.

Though the first RT-PCR tests were COVID-19 positive, their viral load was low and couldn’t be taken for genome sequencing.

The group has undergone swab testing to determine if they, also, are positive for the UK variant.

Aside from the eight individuals, five other close contacts of the UK variant positive patient have been tested positive for COVID-19.

These include two other passengers who were with them on the flight from Dubai, the patient’s mother and his partner, as well as the healthcare worker who assisted him.

Authorities, however, have not revealed any detail yet as to how the mother of the male patient contracted the disease.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte stressed that there was not a time the male patient went home in his residence in Quezon City since they arrived.

“Ang very close contacts niya ay mga household members nila kasama yung nanay at yung girlfriend niya,” explained Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“Iyong girlfriend niya initially tested negative pero nung nagre-swab tayo, she turned positive. And the mother, nung na-swab siya, ang resulta niya rin ay positive. So pinadala na rin for sequencing yung kanilang mga specimen,” she added.

All samples from the said five COVID-19 positive patients have been sent to the Philippine Genome Center for sequencing to also determine if they are positive for the UK variant.

Results are expected to be out on Thursday.

Meanwhile, six more persons from the 159 close contacts of the patient are still being located.

The DOH has asked the help of Contact Tracing Czar Mayor Benjamin Magalong to immediately locate them.

“153 of them ay na-contact na natin. Nagkaroon na tayo ng pakikipag-ugnayan with them. They are all now isolated. So we are now left with 6 but this morning may report sa akin meron na ring nahanap uli na additional two,” Vergeire.

“So apat nalang po ang natitira na hindi natin nahahanap,” she added.

The DOH is closely monitoring the results of the tests on the patient’s close contacts to prevent the spread of the UK variant in the Philippines.

The agency reminds the public to always be responsible and follow strict minimum health standards whatever variant of COVID-19 is prevailing in the country. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Kalibo Airport on lockdown until Jan. 21

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines The Kalibo International Airport is currently under a three-day lockdown after several of its personnel tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The airport is on lockdown from January 19 to 21 to give way to disinfection after 11 employees were confirmed to have contracted the viral respiratory disease last week.

The lockdown includes offices outside the passenger terminal building but within the airport complex, particularly the Administrative Office of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the Aerodome Rescue Fire Fighting station, and the Philippine Airlines ticketing office.

Airport operations will resume on Friday, January 22.

400K OFWs sent home during pandemic — DOLE

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2021

Manila, Philippines — Over 400,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been sent home since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

As of January 16, the Labor Department records a total of 410,211 repatriates who have undergone quarantine and were cleared of COVID-19.

“After their ordeal in their country of origin, our dear OFWs were all provided accommodation, food, transportation, and cash assistance by the government. Now, they are safely home with their families,” DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

The latest figures from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration showed that 8,273 OFWs were transported to their respective provinces last week.

An estimate of 60,000 to 80,000 more OFWs are expected to be repatriated this year, according to reports from the various Philippine Overseas Labor Offices of DOLE. AAC

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