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Philippines eyes 'massive forced quarantine' for suspected COVID-19 cases

The government is considering "a massive forced quarantine" for the country's hundreds of persons under investigation and the thousands under monitoring for possible COVID-19 infection if the number of confirmed cases doesn't decrease in the coming days.

Retired General Carlito Galvez, the chief implementer of the national action plan versus COVID-19, said the next two weeks would be critical as the government decides whether or not to lift Luzon-wide community quarantine on April 12.

He said home quarantine for persons under investigation and persons under monitoring for COVID-19 was proving to be ineffective against the spread of virus particularly in low-income communities.

Galvez there was too little space for physical distancing in such areas.

"Para magkaroon tayo ng massive forced quarantine, kailangang makuha agad namin ‘yung potential carriers. Contain, isolate and eliminate the threat,” Galvez said.

Galvez said the conversion into quarantine areas of huge venues such as the Philippine International Convention Center, Cultural Center of the Philippines, ULTRA, Rizal Coliseum and the Philippine Arena would be finished in ten days.

He said he wanted to see if isolating the possible carriers could reduce the number of new cases and deaths.

"Ang medyo critical dito... 'yung tinatawag na self-quaranttine o home quarantine may not be observed by poor people kasi nakikita natin 'yung physical distancing cannot be implemented," Galvez said.

"I have heard na sa Quezon City and dami dahil dense ang population. Maliliit 'yung kwarto... Hindi po ma-achieve," he added.

Getting the real picture of how many Filipinos are infected is a problem because the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine can only process up to 1,000 tests a day.

Galvez said Philippine laboratories should be able to process 3,000 to 4,000 COVID-19 tests a day.

"Kaya nga ang DOH is hurrying up for the accrediation of hospitals para mag-double-up, mag-accelerate kasi ang rate lang natin ngayon is more or less 1,000," Galvez said.

"We need at least 3,000 or higher than 4,000," he added.

Right now, Galvez is recommending the use of masks particularly for the elderly and the sickly who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

He also appeals to the public to adhere to physical distancing and use masks when going outside to stem the spread of the virus. -NB, GMA News