MANILA - Overseas Filipino worker Joseph Martin Perjis only has barely a week before he flies back to China's special administrative region of Macau.
He went home to his hometown in General Trias, Cavite on Feb. 4 for his wedding, but almost half of his stay in the country was spent for home quarantine.
The Philippines allows Filipinos from China and its territories of Hong Kong and Macau but come home, but they need to undergo a 14-day home quarantine as part of precautionary measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Health expert Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III, who is also the executive director of the Commission on Population, said home quarantine is being allowed for those who are asymptomatic or have small chances of getting sick.
But they have to be monitored, he noted.
"This is actually an old measure. Dahil wala tayong gamot (Because there is no medicine yet), this is our best option. Ang ginagawa ng ibang bansa, kino-contact ka online, mag-Facetime para makita ka (What other countries do is to contact the person online, like Facetime, just to see you). The monitoring is important," Perez said.
Perjis said though he was not strictly monitored. Nonetheless, he still followed the mandated isolation, which he completed Feb. 19.
"Kahit walang nagmo-monitor, mas pinili ko na lang din ituloy 'yung quarantine kasi hindi ko rin sure kung infected ba talaga ako or hindi. So para sure din na hindi ko sila mahawaan," he told ABS-CBN News on Saturday.
(Even if no one is monitoring, I chose to complete the quarantine because I'm not also sure if I'm infected or not. It was also to ensure that I don't infect others (if I had the virus).)
"Hindi na ako bumalik (sa Bureau of Quarantine) or hindi rin naman sila nag-followup."
(I did not return anymore (to the Bureau of Quarantine), and they did not conduct any follow-up anymore).
The 29-year-old rushed his preparations for the Feb. 24 wedding. Due to time constraint, he also spent honeymoon with his wife Angel Lia while she was working in Boracay.
"Na-miss ko 'yung gala-gala, saka mga gatherings," he said, laughing.
(I missed just strolling around freely, and other gatherings.)
In a media interview on the repatriation of 163 Filipinos from Macau Saturday, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said returning Filipinos from the casino hub are classified as persons-under-monitoring.
"So magho-home quarantine pa rin po sila, bibigyan ng advice. Kung meron po tayong makitang symptomatic sa pagdating nila sa pag-assess natin, 'yun po ay magiging patient-under-investigation," she said.
(They need to undergo home quarantine, and will be given advice. If we find any to be symptomatic upon assessment on their arrival, they will become patient-under-investigation.)
Foreign Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola of the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) said self-quarantine of Filipinos from Macau are important to avoid possible transmission of the coronavirus.
"Sana sundin nila kung ano 'yung sinabi for the safety of their ano also," she told reporters at Ninoy Aquino International Airport during the arrival of the Filipino repatriates from Macau. "Mahirap kasi iyan kasi may local transmission na so we need cooperation."
(I hope they follow the advice, for their safety... It's difficult now because there's local transmission already. So, we need cooperation.)
Health authorities in Macau, however, earlier announced that they no longer have a coronavirus case following the release from hospital of their last COVID-19 patient on Friday.