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Doctors’ group hits AFP, DOH execs for visiting quarantined peacekeepers


(Updated 2:03 p.m., Nov. 18) The Philippine College of Physicians has criticized military and health officials' for visiting peacekeepers from Ebola-hit Liberia at their quarantine facilities in Caballo Island over the weekend.
 
Dr. Anthony Leachon of the Philippine College of Physicians said families of the Filipino peacekeepers under the 21-day quarantine might ask why are they not allowed to visit their relatives on the island, according to a report on GMA News' 24 Oras early Monday evening.

AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., AFP spokesman Harold Cabunoc, DOH Acting Secretary Janette Garin, and DOH Spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy went to the island on Sunday without wearing protective equipment.
 
"This is a serious concern," Leachon said.
 
"One Ebola can actually decrease our GDP. It has economic, business and tourism impact. Baka maapektuhan din ang pagdating ng Santo Papa," he added.

In another interview, Leachon cited the Quarantine Act of 2004 which limits the travel to quarantine areas.
 
“Sa Quarantine Act of 2004, hindi ineencourage ang unnecessary travel to the quarantine area. Dapat yung risk-benefit ratio, i-analyze natin,” he said. 
 
Leachon further said that as soldiers, the peacekeepers are trained to endure the temporary isolation of the 21-day quarantine. 
 
“Soldiers are actually trained to endure suffering, pain and even death. Pwede naman silang mag-skype, pwede naman silang magtawagan, 21 days lang naman itong hihintayin nila, ang pagsasakripisyo mo naman ay para sa bayan,” he said.

But those who visited the quarantined peacekeepers have stood by their decision, saying there was little to no threat of exposure.
 
"Hindi nakakahawa ang Ebola 'pag wala pang sintomas ang pasyente pero kailangan ang maigting na pagbabantay," Garin said.
 
Catapang indicated that the acting Health secretary was the one setting the safety protocols.
 
"We are not violating anything," Catapang said, adding that Garin’s presence during the visit is proof that the proper proceedures were followed.
 
“Kasama nga siya nagpunta dun eh, if only to show that this is the protocol. We will just show to them na ito yung dapat maging pananaw ng taong bayan na there's nothing to worry [about,]” Catapang said.
 
Despite the visit by the DOH and the AFP, members of the peacekeepers’ families have not been allowed to visit their loved ones. — Kathryn Tubadeza and Patricia Denise Chiu/NB/KG/RSJ, GMA News

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