Malacañang urged mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases to voluntarily submit themselves to isolation facilities, saying it will be like a “paid for vacation” with “excellent facilities” as the government steps up its efforts against the pandemic.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said policemen and local government personnel will be going house-to-house to search for COVID-19 cases who should not be on home quarantine.
In an interview with ANC, Roque said the government has no provision to go knocking on every door and that only the critics of the administration are weaponizing the important task of tracing and isolation.
“They (authorities) will not go house-to-house. They (COVID-19 patients) will have to be reported by the individuals themselves, their family, or the barangay. There is a law, which is RA 11332 which says that you have to report communicable diseases.
Republic Act No. 11332 is the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.
It’s a vacation
Roque, instead, urged the mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases to “surrender” and confine themselves in isolation centers that are air-conditioned with free lodging, free meals throughout the day, free Wi-Fi access, and a graduation ceremony once their quarantine is completed.
There will also be doctors and nurses to attend to their needs while under quarantine.
“We’re trying precisely to entice them with excellent facilities. It’s a paid-for vacation with [an] air-conditioned facility,” Roque said.
“It’s not as if they are brought to jails. They look like hotels! So it’s not as if they will be sent to solitary confinement. But there’s no other way,” he added.
Roque said patients cannot refuse to be brought to isolation facilities since public health is the government’s priority.
“It’s a very communicable disease and if they refuse to be isolated, the State, of course, can isolate them,” he said.
“The legal basis to bring the asymptomatics and the mild cases without isolation facilities or with vulnerables living with them is still the inherent police power of the State. This is still [the] promotion of public health,” he added.
Roque said that all governments in the world can place a patient under quarantine to prevent the spread of the disease.
“So let’s not make a big issue out of it especially now that we know that studies already indicate that this virus may have already mutated and is even more contagious,” he said.
Roque acknowledged the observation of the World Health Organization (WHO) that the situation in the Philippines was worrying as the rise in cases shows that there is a continuing transmission of COVID-19.
“The WHO is correct. We have to intensify our tracing efforts. It’s not something we have actual, acquired specialization on, but I think we’re catching up,” he said.
“Part of the means now by which we can control the spread of the disease is by transferring the asymptomatics and the mild to isolation centers,” he added.
According to Roque, the government has already employed 60,000 tracers and that they are looking into adding 50,000 more under the Bayanihan 2 package.