COVID-19 task force dangles hotel perks to discourage home quarantine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 5) — The National Task Force Against COVID-19 counts on an additional ₱5 billion fund under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act to discourage asymptomatic patients from home quarantine.

The money will be used to send patients to hotels during their 14-day isolation, Defense Secretary and task force head Delfin Lorenzana said Saturday.

“That will encourage the people to really volunteer to come dahil komportable 'yung tirahan nila, meron pa silang TV, meron pa silang Internet,” Lorenzana said in a public meeting with local officials in Caloocan City. “Hinihintay natin mapasa yung batas na ‘yan para mapakinabangan natin yung 5 billion para sa quarantine."

[Translation: That will encourage the people to really volunteer to come because they will have a comfortable stay, with TV and Internet. We are waiting for the signing of the law for us to use the P5 billion for quarantine.]

The bill, also known as Bayanihan 2, is only awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte’s action after it was ratified by both houses of Congress in late August.

The measure consists of a stimulus plan worth ₱165.5 billion for pandemic response and recovery. This includes a ₱4.5 billion allotment for the “construction and maintenance of isolation facilities including billing of hotels, food and transportation,” to be used by the Office of Civil Defense as head of the task force.

Officials suspect that home quarantine contributes to the rise in COVID-19 transmissions as patients with mild or no symptoms stay in their houses instead of isolation facilities, Lorenzana said. The task force also hopes to get discounts since hotel operations are limited by the coronavirus crisis, he added.

The Department of Health does not prohibit home quarantine as long as the patient has his own room and toilet and does not live with vulnerable people, including the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

READ: Gov't sets restrictions for home quarantine