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DOH: Non-isolation of persons exposed to COVID-19 individuals could contribute to community transmission

The non-isolation of persons who have been exposed to COVID-19 patients or those who have symptoms could be one of the factors contributing to transmission of the disease in the community, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Friday.

“We have observed na ang mga pasyente o mga symptomatic ay naa-isolate, ‘yung mga exposed na individuals hindi po masyadong naa-isolate baka nga ito ang nakapag-contribute, isa sa factor for community transmission,” Vergeire said in an Unang Hirit interview.

“So ang pinakaimportante po sa strategy natin ngayon kung hindi man natin sila ma-test, they will be advised to be isolated,” she added.

Vergeire made the statement a day after the country registered the most number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia with 119,460, surpassing Indonesia. Of this number, 66,837 recovered while 2,150 died.

The active COVID-19 cases in the country is at 50,473.

She earlier said that increase in COVID-19 cases was due to clustering of cases and community transmission.

Vergeire said the government is now stepping up efforts to identify persons exposed to COVID-19 cases or those with symptoms.

“Kasama sa ginagawa nating strategy ang Coordinated Operations to Defeat the Epidemic (CODE). Bumaba na po ang ating mga teams so we have assigned teams that will go to priority areas with clustering kung saan po sila ay maga-identify, magha-house sa mga taong may sintomas o di kaya na-expose,” the health official said.

Under the CODE strategy, those who will be found exhibiting COVID-19 with symptoms will be tested using the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) or swab test. Those with exposure to those with symptoms, on the other hand, will be isolated.

“Meron po tayong criteria para hindi naman po ma-overwhelm ang ating testing system, at kaya rin po nag-e-establish pa rin po tayo ng mas maraming isolation centers para ma-isolate agad ang may exposure,” Vergeire said.

She said that home quarantine will still be allowed for mild and asymptomatic patients, provided that such patient’s house has a room equipped with a comfort room for the exclusive use of the COVID-19 patient.

Vergeire said that while it is not wrong to compare the country to its Southeast Asian neighbors, such comparison should be made some considerations in mind.

“May iba iba pong setting ang bawat bansa, iba-iba rin po ang poulasyon, iba-iba rin ang response, at tayo na rin ang may pinakamataas na number of COVID-19 test [done] in Southeast Asia,” she said.

Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Bulacan province have been placed under stricter modified enhanced community quarantine—a protocol that bans mass transport from August 4 to 18—to slow down the rising number of COVID-19 cases.—AOL, GMA News