By Chito Chavez
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on Sunday expressed shock after learning that three patients who tested positive for the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) were sent home due to lack of space in the facilities where they were supposed to be confined.
After receiving this report, Belmonte immediately dispatched local health officials to immediately have the COVID-19 patients removed from their respective communities to arrest the spread of the disease. The three patients were reportedly from the city’s depressed communities.
Belmonte declined to name the urban poor communities where they belonged, citing the stigma that those places could suffer.
After receiving news that the three confirmed COVID-19 positive individuals were driven away, Belmonte said it was “a little shocking and a little disturbing’’.
But she was quick to note that the patients were “fortunately showing just very, very mild symptoms”.
Belmonte surmised that their asymptomatic state could have been the reason why the hospital staff showed little concern to immediate isolate them at the facility.
Explaining further, Belmonte said probably the three might be asymptomatic that made hospital staff show little concern to isolate them in a facility.
At the moment, Belmonte noted that her team already studying options where COVID-19 patients could also be confined in the city.
She pointed to a hotel that the city government turned into a hospital to observe persons under investigation (PUIs) which started operations last Thursday.
The mayor said that plans are afoot to reserve 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.
“That’s an option we’re considering at the moment,” Belmonte said.
Belmonte said that the lack of space in health facilities could have been the main reason for the current protocol of turning away patients while they wait for their test results.
“So, even if they’re positive, they get sent home,” she said.
Belmonte said four areas in the city are currently under “extreme enhanced community quarantine” following the guidelines of the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious diseases.