'The state can isolate' coronavirus patients even if they prefer home quarantine: Palace

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2020 10:34 AM

An ambulance traverses Dr. Sixto Antonio Avenue in Pasig City on March 17, 2020. Fernando G. Sepe Jr. ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The government "can isolate" coronavirus patients with mild or no symptoms, even if they prefer to go on home quarantine, Malacañang said Thursday. 

Home quarantine is only allowed if a patient has his or her own room with an attached restroom, and they do not share the house with someone who has commorbidities, senior citizens or pregnant women, who are vulnerable to COVID-19, said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque. 

Those who do not satisfy these criteria should go to government isolation facilities, where they will have their own air-conditioned rooms with free meals and WiFi, he said. 

"That's the only way we can contain community transmission of the virus," he told ANC. "Sentido comon—it's a very communicable disease and if they refuse to be isolated, the state of course can isolate them." 

The state's "inherent police power of the state" and "promotion of public health" serve as legal basis for this, he said. 

"'Pag merong dapat i-quarantine, puwede iyang kuhanin ng gobyerno (when someone needs to be quarantined, the government can get them). Let's not make a big issue out of it," Roque said. 

"But I don't think it will go to that extent. It's a paid-for vacation in an air-conditioned facility. It's not as if they're going to be brought to the jails," he added. 

Roque said he would soon make public photos of the isolation facilities that "look like hotels." 

NO HOUSE-TO-HOUSE SEARCH

The Palace official also denied that authorities would go on a house-to-house search for coronavirus patients. 

"We don't have a provision for house-to-house. Only the political critics of the government, again, weaponizing this very important task of tracing," said Roque. 

"They (patients) will have to be reported by the persons themselves, their family or the barangay," he added.

The Philippine National Police on Wednesday said it would be up to local governments to guide house-to-house searches of COVID-19 patients to prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus. 

"Hindi po kami ang mangunguna dito. Hindi po kami ang magkukusa, magsasarili na kakatok sa mga bahay. Maghihintay po kami sa guidance at request ng LGU," Joint Task Force COVID Shield head Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.