Galvez tells Davao to put close contacts of Covid patients in isolation facilities

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 November) — Persons who had close contacts with confirmed cases of coronavirus disease should be held in isolation facilities instead of just requiring them to undergo home quarantine, National Task Force (NTF) Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez told the city government on Wednesday.

Galvez, speaking at the meeting of the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) Team in Camp Quintin Merecido of the Police Regional Office 11, said home quarantine raises more risks of community transmission, which happens when the index case of a confirmed positive is unknown.

He said a similar surge in new Covid-19 cases was observed in other areas that implemented home quarantine for close contacts.

The Roxas Night Market in Davao City reopens on 12 Sept. 2020, six months after the imposition of community quarantine. MindaNews file photo by GG BUENO

“The isolation really, we have to put forward, we have to isolate. It should be ‘zero quarantine’ because, unless we will work at zero home quarantine, we will have a hard time,” he said.

Galvez said the city government should focus on improving contact-tracing system and isolation of close contacts.

He said the local government units (LGUs) in the National Capital Region and other cities outside of it dealt with the surge through “aggressive isolation.”

“When we say home quarantine, it should include the first contact. Normally, the first contact is the key. Once you become a first contact, that means you are a close contact. Example, a Covid case has close contacts, they, too, must be isolated immediately and after five days, you test them… In other LGUs, the first contacts and those who have been contact-traced are just there in their houses, under home quarantine, and it results in further spread,” he said.

He said the city must also intensify the implementation of health protocols in business establishments, particularly workplaces and other confined places, where most of the transmissions occurred.

“I believe this is our weakness. We don’t look at the business sector or confined spaces. When workers go home they infect their families unknowingly,” he said.

The official said he will bring to the city the team that helped manage the crisis in Cebu, Bacolod, and Metro Manila to assist in the isolation, contact-tracing, and enhancement of capacity of the hospitals here.

The team includes Health Assistant Secretary Leopoldo Vega and retired MGen Melquiades Feliciano.

“We will bring them to block out those who are in home quarantine. That’s very significant. Those are our lessons that once we block out those in home quarantine—and subsequently test them—and isolate, including the first contact, cases will go down within four weeks. We’ve already experienced that with Bacolod, Cebu and Batangas,” he said.

He said he will bring “Oplan Kalinga,” a program launched by the national government “to accommodate Covid-19 patients who do not have their own room and own toilet where they can isolate themselves or for those who have household members who are elderly, with existing diseases, and pregnant women,” to stem the widespread transmission of the infection.

Oplan Kalinga “seeks to reduce the risk of more infections in the household and communities, and to identify and isolate infected individuals in proper isolation and quarantine facilities.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)