Gov't sets restrictions for home quarantine

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Testing czar Vince Dizon (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 14) – The government has laid out strict rules for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients opting for home quarantine, saying those who have space limitations should stay in isolation centers.

Testing czar Vince Dizon revealed Tuesday the government's rules for home quarantine, saying that a patient should have a separate room and toilet for his/her exclusive use and must not have senior citizens, pregnant women, and those with preexisting medical conditions living in the same house.

"Kung bagsak ka sa kahit iisa lang sa tatlong 'yun, hindi ka pwedeng mag-home quarantine dahil 'yun ang nagiging rason ng pagkalat ng COVID-19: kapag hindi mo nai-isolate ang sarili mo sa bahay at nahahawa mo ang iyong mga kasama," Dizon said during a media briefing in Taguig.

[Translation: If you do not meet even just one of these three criteria, you cannot opt for home quarantine because that's how the virus spreads: when you can't isolate yourself in your house and you infect other residents.]

A new program called Oplan Kalinga which will be rolled out will allow authorities to fetch patients from their homes to be brought to isolation centers, in coordination with local health units.

There are 57,006 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country as of Monday, with 20,371 recoveries and 1,599 deaths. The Department of Health said more than 90 percent of patients experience mild or no symptoms, which make them seem fit to just stay isolated at home until they test negative for the virus.

Dizon said the program started with more than 50 patients in Navotas, who were transferred to the state-run mega quarantine centers inside the World Trade Center, Philippine Arena, and the Philippine International Convention Center.

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An additional 40 patients will be fetched from Malabon City, while talks are ongoing for other cities, towns, and provinces, he added.

The DOH earlier said it is not shelving the option for patients with mild symptoms to self-isolate. Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, the co-chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, said the government is "discouraging" home quarantine because it heightens the risk of spreading the virus within the household.

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Patients will be treated, fed, and tested for free during their stay at the quarantine centers, which are equipped with free wifi.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also appealed to communities to report neighbors who may have COVID-19 so that they can be brought in for treatment. He added that each barangay must have at least one contact tracing team, saying local government units are given more responsibility in controlling infections.