By Mario Casayuran
Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Saturday proposed the establishment of additional quarantine stations for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients in strategic locations throughout the country.
Cayetano, chairperson of the Senate ways and means committee, filed Senate Bill1442 seeking to establish the operation of additional quarantine stations, grounds and anchorages, including the expansion of existing quarantine facilities.
She said her measure seeks to preempt the spread of communicable diseases that pose a significant threat to public health.
She said the current 18 provincial quarantine stations that had been in existence even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic are inadequate to cover the points of entry in the country.
“They need to be strategically located and have the necessary equipment that is not only specific to COVID-19,” she stressed.
Cayetano said the 2,780 temporary quarantine facilities recently mobilized upon the instructions of President Duterte in anticipation of the more than 167,000 patients would not be enough to house the increased number of COVID-19 patients.
“These are temporary in nature, thus the need for this measure,” said Cayetano.
Under Section 6 of the Quarantine Act of 2004, the director of the Bureau of Quarantine has the authority to establish additional quarantine stations, grounds and anchorages if he deems these necessary to prevent the introduction of diseases of international concern to the country.
Cayetano pointed out that such authority might be limited because of the Bureau of Quarantine’s budgetary constraints.
She said the additional quarantine facilities should be under the Department of Health (DOH).
Cayetano said the DOH Secretary should also lay down coordination measures involving relevant government agencies and the private sector to ensure the safety of persons under investigation, health workers and the community.