Groups worry over mandatory isolation in facilities, warn of patients refusing testing

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2020 01:46 PM | Updated as of Sep 29 2020 06:13 PM

Groups worry over mandatory isolation in facilities, warn of patients refusing testing 1
The Navotas City Community Isolation Facility located behind the city hall on August 20, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — In order to prevent "unintended consequences," various groups on Tuesday asked the government to reconsider its decision requiring people to undergo isolation in quarantine and treatment facilities, and not in their homes.

“We, the undersigned civil society groups and health advocates, fully understand the need to isolate COVID-19 positive individuals to prevent further transmission of the virus,” the groups under the COVID-19 Action Network Philippines said in a statement.

“However, we appeal to the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) to include patients with the capacity to home isolate in the exceptions for required facility-based isolation, in order to prevent unintended consequences, which are not in line with our goal of reducing transmissions,” the statement read.

The groups are referring to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ Resolution No. 74, which requires even asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 patients to undergo facility-based isolation.

The exception to this policy is, if facilities have insufficient capacity, or if the patient has comorbidities, or is a member of the vulnerable population (senior citizen, person with disability, etc.) and has capacity to isolate at home.

The Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC), one of the groups that signed the statement, said that the new policy may result in patients refusing testing and lying about their symptoms.

“From the health perspective, isang posibleng mangyari dito ay yung sa takot na malamang hindi mag-disclose ang tao na sila ay may nararamdaman, o kaya hindi na magpa-test, kasi nga ito na ang ating patakaran ngayon,” said Dr. Anna Ong-Lim of the HPAAC during a virtual briefing organized by the groups. 

(From the health perspective, one thing that could happen is that people become afraid to disclose if they have symptoms, or they refuse to be tested because of this policy.)

They said the government should instead focus on serving the underprivileged with no capacity to self-isolate.

Nice Coronacion of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) said in the same briefing that they received reports that patients are only receiving two instead of three meals a day from certain facilities. She said either there was no breakfast or no lunch.

“Kailangan malinaw ang standard para doon. Yung ayudang sapat para sa lahat,” she said.

(The standards should be clear. And there should be enough aid for all.)
Coronacion also said workers who miss work because of isolation should receive aid from the government.

Eleanor Bartolome of the PUP Students’ Party for Equality and Advancement of Knowledge also expressed worry for children whose parents are brought to the isolation facilities.

She asked how are children being cared for if they are separated from their parents.

“We express our concern over the current conditions and management of government facilities. COVID-19 patients have experienced issues on hygiene, waste management, gender-based violence and sanitation in isolation facilities. These issues have to be addressed,” the groups said in the statement. 

Other groups who signed the joint statement are the Action for Economic Reforms, Healthy Philippines Alliance, Aktibong Kilusan Tungo sa Iisang Bayan (AKTIB), PUP Office of the Student Regent, and other local and community organizations.