COVID ‘labeling’ no way to treat victims, rights agency warns

Local officials in Ozamiz City have marked off about 100 houses with caution tape to prevent close contacts of COVID-19 patients in the houses from spreading the disease to the community—drawing flak from other officials and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Ozamiz Mayor Ando Oaminal ordered the security tapes placed on the entrances and doors of the households in Dakbayan village on Monday following his City Address on their COVID-19 situation, the Asenzo Ozamiz News Channel reported.

The Mayor explained that it was done “to avoid going out of quarantine residents, which will result in more COVID 

cases in our city. In this way, the ceilings will be alerted that the house is on quarantine and they can help to keep the quarantine protocols of the inhabitants.”

“It's after (residents of) a few homes in our city that should have been quarantined went out and violated this order, which is a great possibility that it was exposed to someone else,” Oaminal added.

As of Tuesday, 33 houses still had red caution tape on their doorways, along with a paper that recorded the date of their residents’ quarantines, the Misamis Observer reported.

As of press time, it was unclear if the caution tapes remained. The Standard could not reach Mayor Oaminal for comment on Friday.

The CHR, meanwhile, on Friday reminded the government to avoid labeling individuals or groups infected with COVID-19 as this could expose them to discriminatory treatment.

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said public health policies on containing the spread of COVID-19 “must never compromise the human rights of individuals.”

The commission urged local officials to be mindful of the social stigmatization that may result from such labeling.

Apart from undermining the social cohesion in the community, labeling may discourage other individuals to report the illness and cause them not seek health care immediately to avoid discrimination, De Guia said.

“Instead of instilling stigma and fear around the communicable disease, what works best is building trust in reliable health services, showing compassion and providing humanitarian assistance to those affected, and adopting practical measures to keep themselves and loved ones safe,” she said.

The Philippines logged on Friday 6,784 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 1,131,467, as five laboratories were unable to submit their data on time, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.

Health officials reported 137 new fatalities, bringing the death toll from COVID-19 to 18,958, which was 1.68 percent of total cases.

The DOH also reported 2,972 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 1,053,523, which was 93.1 percent of the total.

There were 58,986 active cases, which was 5.2 percent of the total. Of the active cases, 93.5 percent were mild; 2.3 percent were asymptomatic; 1.3 percent were critical; 1.8 percent were severe; and 1.13 percent were moderate.

The DOH also reported that, nationwide, 59 percent of the ICU beds, 44 percent of the isolation beds, 48 percent of the ward beds, and 40 percent of the ventilators were in use.

In Metro Manila, 61 percent of the ICU beds, 44 percent of the isolation beds, 48 percent of the ward beds, and 46 percent of the ventilators were in use.

Also on Friday, the DOH said vital signs screening will no longer be included in the COVID-19 vaccination process in a bid to speed up the rollout of vaccines.

As of May 11, more than 2 million people have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier approved the recommendation of the inter-agency task force on the country's COVID-19 response that downgraded quarantine classifications in most parts of the Philippines, including the National Capital Region (NCR) and surrounding provinces, also called NCR Plus, where a surge in infections was recorded between March and April.

In an online briefing Friday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said health officials were tracing the 41 travelers onboard the same flights as two seafarers found to have the Indian variant of the coronavirus (B.1.617).

Vergeire said the first B.1.617 variant case, a 37-year-old male who came from Oman, had six close contacts on his flight.

The second case, a 38-year-old male from the United Arab Emirates, had 35 close contacts on his flight.

These include people seated either four seats in front, four seats behind, or four seats on either side of the travelers who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to the country, Vergeire said.

“We are tracing all of them and trying to check all of their statuses,” she said.

Vergeire had assured the public that all the close contacts underwent quarantine and testing upon arrival in the Philippines.

“The protocols were followed and hopefully there were no breaches of protocol for us to say that there is danger for our countrymen,” she said in Filipino.

Earlier this week, the DOH confirmed that two Filipino men in their mid-30s who flew home in April were infected with the B.1.617 variant, which was first detected in India, which is now being ravaged by a fierce COVID-19 surge that has killed thousands daily.

Topics: Ozamiz City , COVID-19 , Commission on Human Rights , Ando Oaminal
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