Gov’t to ban home quarantine as coronavirus cases near 242,000

RESIDENTS of a small apartment building do house chores outside their units, amid the lockdown to contain COVID-19, in a slum area in Tondo, Manila, May 4. — REUTERS

THE GOVERNMENT is looking at enforcing aggressive isolation measures and prohibiting home quarantine for coronavirus patients to bring down the infection rate further, according to Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., chief enforcer of the state’s anti-COVID-19 efforts.

Stricter isolation measures were needed to keep the virus in control, he told an online news briefing on Tuesday.

The government has been setting up more isolation centers for patients that don’t show symptoms and those with mild cases of the virus to contain the virus.

Mr. Galvez said he stood by his earlier remarks that home quarantine was to blame for the spread of the coronavirus. Cases have been decreasing in areas where home quarantine had been discouraged, he added.

He noted that while there are guidelines on home quarantine, he and Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Ano are discussing a plan for an inter-agency task force to issue an order banning home quarantine.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 3,281 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to 241,987.

The death toll rose to 3,916 after 26 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 286 to 185,178, it said in a bulletin.

There were 52,893 active cases, 88.6% of which were mild, 8.2% did not show symptoms, 1.3% were severe and 1.9% were critical.

Metro Manila had the highest number of new cases with 1,420, followed by Cavite with 263, Negros Occidental with 204, Laguna with 197 and Rizal with 196.

Of the new deaths, nine came from Metro Manila, four from Central Visayas, three from the Calabarzon region, and two each from Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao region and Mimaropa.

One death each was reported from the Bicol region, Western Visayas and Eastern Visayas, while one death was unknown.

The death rate was at 1.62%, lower than the 3.23% global rate, while the infection rate was at 10.62%, higher than the World Health Organization’s (WHO) less than 5% benchmark.

More than 2.6 million have been tested, DoH said.

The coronavirus has sickened 27.5 million and killed almost 900,000 people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

About 19.6 million people have recovered from the virus, it said.

The government on Monday said local coronavirus infections have slowed, while the country’s healthcare system has improved.

The virus reproductive rate stood at 0.94 from four in March, meaning an infected patient can infect one more person, he said.

Mr. Galvez earlier said new cases peaked on Aug. 10 with 6,958 and gradually decreased to 2,592 on Sept. 5. There was also a downtrend in Metro Manila, the Calabarzon region and Central Visayas, he said.

There were now 117 licensed laboratories that have conducted 2.7 million tests involving 2.6 million people.

Mr. Galvez urged the public to continue practicing minimum health standards by wearing face masks and shields, washing hands and practicing social distancing to prevent local transmission.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the head of the national task force, on Saturday said the Philippines was seeking to flatten the curve by the end of September.

In epidemiology, the idea of slowing a virus spread so that fewer people need to seek treatment at a time is known as flattening the curve.

The curve researchers are talking about refers to the projected number of people who will get infected over time. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Gillian M. Cortez

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