Isolating virus patients 'lawful and necessary'

THE transfer of COVID-19 patients to isolation centers is urgent and necessary to prevent the spread of the deadly virus to other members of the family or to the community.

According to Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano the move is not only to monitor the patients closely but also for the good of other people around them.

Ano also described as fake news reports that the government will do “house-to-house search” to be led by the police or military which he said is part of the disinformation campaign by unscrupulous individuals.

“This move is plainly to ensure that COVID-19 patients will be attended to and that they will not spread the virus to their families and the community,” the DILG chief said.

He said that transferring coronavirus-positives to COVID Ligtas Centers serves as precautionary measures to curtail the transmission of the deadly virus and, most importantly, to ensure that they are taken care of.

On the other hand, home quarantine according to Ano, is a contributory factor in the spread of the coronavirus in the community as some residences do not have dedicated areas to isolate their infected relatives, hen leading to more cases.

“Ito po ay tungkulin ng inyong pamahalaan sa ating mga mamamayan na naaayon sa batas lalo na ngayong panahon ng krisis at kayo ay lumalaban sa isang pandemia. Makipagtulungan po tayo sa gobyerno dahil ang kapakanan at kalusugan ng buong komunidad na ang nakasalalay,” the DILG Secretary said.

Republic Act 11332 provides legal authority for quarantine and isolation purposes and penalizes non-cooperation of persons who have a notifiable disease or are affected by a health event of public concern.

Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) president Domingo Egon Cayoso said that “enforcing the law is part of the state’s power,” explaining that conducting house-to-house visits to find COVID-19 patients is in accordance with the law granting public health authorities the power to ensure quarantine and isolation.

A fine of P20,000 to P50,000 and/or imprisonment of one to six months will be slapped on anyone who refuses quarantine.

Cayoso said that patients who tested positive and are medically proven to be carriers and still refuse to be taken to Ligtas Centers are “actually committing a crime”.

Ano said that a person is allowed to do home quarantine if he has a separate room where the patient can be confined or if the patient has his own comfort room and not living with people who are vulnerable to COVID-19 such as senior citizen and immune-compromised individuals, among others.