ALBAY, Philippines – Albayanos who traveled outside Albay and the Bicol region are now required to do a self-quarantine as a preventive measure against the coronavirus outbreak.
This is part of the Executive Order No. 7 released on Thursday, March 12 by the provincial government which establishes measures to prevent the spread in Albay of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The order took effect immediately and will be imposed indefinitely.
The EO states that “all residents of the Province of Albay who traveled outside of the region shall impose self-quarantine for 14 days.”
Those who arrived from outside the province must report to the barangay health workers upon their arrival in Albay. They must not roam around their barangays (villages) during their quarantine period.
Barangay officials and barangay health workers must monitor the health condition and whereabouts of these individuals.
Protocol for self-quarantine
Albay Public Safety & Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) chief Dr Cedric Daep said on Friday, March 13, over Radyo Veritas Legazpi that the ultimate goal is to prevent a single case of infection.
“But if it does happen, there are countermeasures that start within community level like the self-quarantine. It will help contain the infection within a limited area, so contact tracing is easier,” Daep said.
Those under home quarantine should still maintain their distance from the people they live with, frequently wash their hands, and if they show symptoms, they must wear a mask, stay inside the room, and use their own set of plate and utensils. However, there are no protocols for those sharing a room or with limited space at home.
“A person in a home quarantine will also be monitored by barangay health workers as per the provincial government order,” Daep reiterated.
Dr Butch Rivera, director of Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH), asked the public to be forthright with their condition.
Rivera assured the people that being under quarantine does not automatically classify him/her a person under investigation (PUI) or positive of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Daep admitted that the most challenging to monitor are those coming home via bus.
“We are urging them to get informed and cooperate with the (barangay health) officials” he said.
Protocol for referral
According to Daep, a barangay health worker will provide those with symptoms with a form for record and referral purposes.
This form will be sent to the provincial epidemiological surveillance unit (PESU) which will inform the respective authorities from various levels. Then, APSEMO will refer it to BRTTH for appropriate action.
Daep added that an ambulance will pick up a suspected COVID-19 patient from his/her home.
Daep also stressed that the possible patient should be transported to the BRTTH for confinement via the designated ambulance. “Private vehicles are discouraged. But if that can’t be helped, it’s the responsibility of the owner to disinfect [their vehicle] after,” he said.
Ensuring the health and well-being of workers, other patients
Rivera said that self-quarantine is a first step in the containment of the COVID-19 outbreak in this provincial context. That’s why he emphasized the need to follow the protocol from the barangay, municipal, and provincial levels. He said coordination and clear communication from all levels are as important.
Rivera said that there are COVID-19 designated areas in hospitals to ensure that non- COVID-19 patients are not infected and frontline health workers are protected.
There is a triage area in a tent for walk-in patients. These are manned by persons trained in handling infectious diseases. There are also posted advisories on what to do and where to go via a one-way designated route to avoid the spread of infection.
If after assessment the person needs to be isolated, then an ambulance will pick up the patient and bring the person to the isolation area.
Mental and psychosocial support will also be provided to affected families and their immediate community, all for free, including the use of ambulance and hospital bills, for COVID-19 cases. – Rappler.com