WHO asks local governments to make ‘better use’ of quarantine facilities

July 14, 2020 – 2:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — Local government units should make “better use” of isolation facilities in their areas to avoid the transmission of the novel coronavirus in the homes of people infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO country representative to the Philippines, said there is a risk of spreading the virus inside households of mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 patients who opt for self-quarantine if safeguards were not in place.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the more effective measure would be to isolate these people in so-called isolation and quarantine facilities so that we minimize the chances of other people getting infected,” Abeyasinghe said in a media forum organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Monday that coronavirus patients, especially those with mild symptoms or asymptomatic ones, are allowed to observe home quarantine as long as health protocols such as having a separate room and bathroom for patients are followed.

This statement came after Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who co-chairs the government’s coronavirus task force, said the government is discouraging home quarantine for COVID-19 patients to contain the spread of the virus.

Vergeire said that only a quarter of over 70,000 beds allotted in isolation units managed by local governments were occupied, while around 38% of 3,193 beds in mega quarantine facilities of the national government were occupied.

“[It is] observed in many places the occupation rate in the isolation and quarantine facilities are quite low meaning they are not being made use of effectively. What we’re advocating is LGUs make better use of these facilities so that the risk of further transmission within households is minimized,” Abeyasinghe said.

Hospitalization for severe cases

The WHO official also urged hospitals in the country to only admit severe cases of COVID-19 and refer those with mild symptoms to isolation centers.

The DOH earlier asked hospitals to refer mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients to temporary treatment centers but Abeyasinghe said “significant proportions” of people admitted in hospitals are mild cases and have no co-morbidities

“Many hospitals are still admitting mild patients into the wards and that is why we are advocating for hospitals not to admit mild cases but for those cases to be admitted in isolation centers so that they can be managed without crowding hospitals,” he said.

Last week, the DOH said at least 11 hospitals in Metro Manila have reported that all of their beds dedicated to COVID-19 were occupied. St. Luke’s Medical Center, Makati Medical Center and The Medical City joined the list of hospitals reaching full capacity of beds allocated for COVID-19 patients.

The coronavirus pandemic has so far sickened 57,007 people with 1,599 deaths. 

SOURCE: https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/07/14/2027926/who-asks-local-governments-make-better-use-quarantine-facilities

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