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The Quezon City government on Monday explained that it is the standard protocol of the Department of Health (DOH) to send home patients with novel coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) symptoms as what was done by the city-based hospital on three patients that drew intense public criticism.

Dr. Rolando Cruz, head of Quezon City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, issued the clarification after three individuals were sent home after being checked and tested positive for the virus.

He further expounded that DOH Memorandum No. 2020-0108 issued on March 11, 2020 indicated that “persons under investigation (PUIs) and positive COVID-19 patients who exhibit mild symptoms with no co-morbidities and are non-elderly are advised to be sent home for strict self-isolation and close monitoring by local health authorities.”

Earlier, Mayor Joy Belmonte expressed concern after the three residents were confirmed positive for COVID-19 and were sent home.

“Keeping them home is alarming because of the conditions in which they live and the ease with which they can transmit the disease,” said Belmonte.

Given this, Dr. Cruz said the local government has started implementing Extreme Enhanced Community Quarantine on residences of positive patients sent home wherein they shall be “strictly’’ monitored by uniformed personnel and provided with necessary assistance in order to ensure their isolation.

In addition, the local government has identified various facilities where positive patients who do not have the capacity to undergo self-quarantine due to their living conditions can be accommodated.

One of which is the recently established HOPE-1, the first of several temporary medical facilities dedicated for PUIs and positive COVID-19 patients who need to be under strict quarantine to prevent the transmission of the virus in the communities.

“We reiterate the local government’s advice to residents to help slow the spread of the said virus by following all directives by the national government,” Cruz said.

Visibly disturbed by the protocol, Belmonte said a hotel facility transformed to a hospital which was opened on March 19 may be the sanctuary of those patients.

“We do have a hotel facility-turned-hospital, that we started operating last Thursday for persons under investigation (PUIs). And I’m now thinking of probably reserving at least one room of that hotel-turned-hospital for (COVID-19) positives that might not be exhibiting very severe symptoms, just to take them away from the community,’’ Belmonte said.

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