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Legazpi diocese urges isolation of patients

LEGAZPI CITY --- Bishop Joel “Bong” Z. Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi has urged the Interagency Task Force (IATF) for Covid-19 in Albay province to isolate the patients found positive with novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) to prevent the disease from further spreading.

“We, the bishop and clergy of the Diocese of Legazpi echoing the sentiments of many of our people, are very much alarmed and disheartened by the way Covid-19 cases (three of them so far) that have been confirmed in the province of Albay,” Baylon said in a statement.

The call came after Albayanos lambasted health and local authorities for allowing Covid-19 patients to go home instead of treating and isolating them in the hospital here.

“As far as we know, these cases---instead of being in strict isolation are on home quarantine in accordance with DOH protocol! What on earth is happening? We were made to understand that as soon as a person whether a PUI or a PUM or even one who was previously asymptomatic of the disease is discovered to be Covid-19 positive,” he said.

Baylon said that the patients are supposed to be in isolation and under strict care and monitoring of medical personnel who have the intensive and proper training for this particular disease.

“Now why are these three cases left to a few barangay health workers or medical service providers who do not have the proper training in a certain barangay, where not only the person with Covid- 19 disease but even those who are taking care of them, can very well transfer the disease to others in the community?” Baylon said.

He said that even with strict lockdown of the Local Government Unit (LGU), the community will never be protected from the deadly Covid-19 without proper isolation.

“Lockdown? Declaring a barangay even under strict lockdown will never protect the community from the virus for as long as person infected with it is in their midst and not properly isolated. And proper isolation, logic demands, means in a facility separated and far away from any vulnerable community,” the prelate said. “Why is this being tolerated? Will we wait until the entire province of Albay is infected with the virus before the national government acts through the Department of Health? Is it so riddled with partisan politics and corruption that it could go beyond simple logic as to be sensitive enough to the enormous danger being posed by situation like this what we have here in Albay?” Baylon added.

As of presstime, Albay province has three cases of Covid-19 positive.

“For the sake of decency and human respect and in the name of our God who suffered for us all and continues to suffer because of our inanities, selfishness and greed, please do something about this dire situation. Is someone out there listening to our cry?” the Baylon said.

Ernie Vera, DOH Bicol regional director explained that the DOH have a policy that for mild cases of PUIs, they are sent home and told to strictly follow home quarantine.

Vera explained that before they are sent home, they are told what to do during the period of their quarantine. They are being monitored by their respective Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERT).

“It’s up to the LGU whether or not to have facilities to house patients waiting for the results of Covid-19 tests administered to them or isolate them in LGU identified isolation area,” Vera said.

Dr. Richard Joseph Garay, DOH Albay chief said that the health department in Bicol allotted P1 million for district hospital to accommodate Covid-19 patients.

DOH Bicol chief said that they are following the World Health Organization (WHO) protocol as far as Covid-19 preventive measures are concerned.

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda for his part is also rallying behind the clamor of the Diocese of Legazpi and majority of Albayanos opposing and questioning the DOH protocol to send Covid-19 positive individuals on home quarantine.

“Isolating these three Covid-19 positive and placing them under proper care of doctors and health workers is the right thing to do for their own good. Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal had to lockdown three barangays with 6,000 population, the entire mayor of first district with 240,000 population and in Guinobatan with 500 population,” Salceda said.

Salceda said that he asked Dr. Butch Rivera, chief of BRTTH and Dr. Eric Raborar, BRTTH HEMS chief requesting them to isolate the three Covid-19 positive persons in a hospital but they said the BRTTH is just following DOH protocol when they were sent on home quarantine Salceda said he tried calling DOH Sec. Duque, Asec. Lacsama and regional director Ernie Vera to revise the protocol since there is an entire universe of difference in risks between “Covid positive with mild symptoms” versus “PUI with mild symptoms” both of whom are now managed similarly with home quarantine.

“Sent home and before they are sent home, they are told what to do during the period of their quarantine. They are being monitored by their respective BHERT. The BHERT were organized only recently with limited training, virtually no PPE except face masks and are under stress from 14 days of maintaining quarantine while external support has yet to flow in,” Salceda said.

“ So far, they have not answered my calls. I will do everything to reverse this policy or protocol because safety first requires because every minute, every hour, every day counts in tracing and isolating the virus and every life, every Albayano is worth saving,” Salceda said.

Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara said that he asked the Interagency Task Force (IATF) to get and transfer the Covid-19 positive individuals in the hospital instead of isolating them in their respective houses.

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