Infectious disease expert warns: Lifting quarantine restrictions will be dangerous

An infectious disease expert rejected calls to lift the quarantine restrictions in the country, saying doing so will be “dangerous.”

In this photo taken on September 19, 2020, people wearing face shields queue up at a public market in Manila. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Lowering the lockdown or lifting the lockdown may be too early at this point because we’re not zero cases, we’re still having cases, and in fact, there is still community transmission, so it’s very dangerous,” Dr. Rontgene Solante, Adult Infectious Disease Department Head at San Lazaro Hospital, told ANC on Wednesday.

The Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDC-PH) had earlier called for the “graduated” lifting of all quarantine restrictions in the country, given that a prophylaxis protocol will be implemented.

Solante said the group’s recommendation to give hydroxychloroquine as prophylactic medication for pre-exposed patients is also “dangerous.”

“Hydroxychloroquine is not effective,” Solante said.

Citing the evaluation made by the World Health Organization (WHO), Solante said hydroxychloroquine made "no difference in terms of the effect on mortality" of COVID-19 patients.

“There is really no role for this hydroxychloroquine in that it can't really block the virus once you are exposed especially in the public setting,” Solante said.

The drug, according to Solante, was also found to be not effective both as a treatment and prophylaxis.

Solante also said that giving prophylaxis to people will give them “false relief."

The infectious disease expert said the lifting of the lockdown can only be done once there is a significant drop in COVID-19 cases in the country.

“It's very dangerous, premature lifting of a lockdown and taking this prophylaxis. You are facing two dangerous interventions here that have not been proven at this point when our cases are still ongoing and the prophylactic medications, even taking vitamins, are not yet also proven to be effective against COVID-19,” he said.