QC health exec says hospitals, not city gov't, sent home positive COVID-19 patients


Posted at Mar 23 2020 01:09 AM

Volunteers pack relief goods for Quezon City residents at city hall on March 20, 2020. The city government will distribute the relief packs to barangays placed on lockdown due to confirmed cases of COVID-19. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Dr. Cruz says the move was based on DOH protocols

MANILA--A Quezon City health official clarified on Sunday that the decision to send home 3 Quezon City residents positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was made by the various Metro Manila hospitals, not the city government, and that it was based on protocols set by the Department of Health (DOH). 

Dr. Rolando Cruz, head of Quezon City's Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, cited DOH Memorandum No. 2020-0108 issued on March 11, 2020 which says that “persons under investigation (PUIs) and positive COVID-19 patients who exhibit mild symptoms with no co-morbidities and are non-elderly are advised to be sent home for strict self-isolation and close monitoring by local health authorities.”

In an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) early on Sunday, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said the 3 lived in urban poor communities, and that the city government was finding ways to extract the patients to prevent the spread of the virus. 

"They're all confirmed positive," she told ANC, adding, "They are not admitted. So, that’s a little shocking and a little disturbing, I think."

"They are showing, fortunately, just very, very mild symptoms. And I think, probably, they might be asymptomatic that's why also there's a little bit of lack of concern to isolate them in a facility," she said. 

In a press statement, Dr. Cruz said the city government has started implementing "Extreme Enhanced Community Quarantine on residences of positive patients sent home wherein they shall be strictly monitored by uniformed personnel and provided with necessary assistance in order to ensure their isolation."

He also said the local government has identified "various facilities where positive patients who do not have the capacity to undergo self-quarantine due to their living conditions can be accommodated."

Dr. Cruz said one of these facilities is "HOPE-1, the first of several temporary medical facilities dedicated for PUIs and positive COVID-19 patients who need to be under strict quarantine to prevent the transmission of the virus in the communities."

In a message to ABS-CBN News later on Sunday, Belmonte said, “Ang nag-test sa kanila ang nagpauwi sa kanila at nadatnan na lang namin sila sa bahay after the list was given to us by the (Department of Health).”

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, Handout

"At the moment, I’m really thinking of a way how that person (in the congested area) can be isolated. We do have a hotel facility-turned-hospital, that we started operating last Thursday for persons under investigation (PUIs). And I'm now thinking of probably reserving at least one room of that hotel-turned-hospital for (COVID-19) positives that might not be exhibiting very severe symptoms, just to take them away from the community. That’s an option we’re considering at the moment," she said.

Belmonte said the lack of space in health facilities led to the current DOH protocol of sending patients home while waiting for their test results.

"Now, what's happening is the person gets tested but because there’s no place for them to stay while they're waiting for the results, they get sent home. So, even if they’re positive, they get sent home," she said.