Senator Pia Cayetano is batting for the establishment of additional quarantine stations for Covid-19 patients to be strategically located throughout the country.
Cayetano filed Senate Bill No. 1442, seeking to establish the operation of additional quarantine stations, grounds and anchorages, including the expansion of existing quarantine facilities.
“This measure seeks to preempt the spread of communicable diseases that pose a significant threat to public health,” she said.
She said the current 18 provincial quarantine stations that had been in existence even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic are inadequate to cover the points of entry in the country.
“They need to be strategically located and have the necessary equipment that is not only specific to Covid-19,” she stressed.
Likewise, she said the 2,780 temporary quarantine facilities recently mobilized upon the instructions of President Duterte in anticipation of the more than 167,000 patients would not be enough to house the increased number of Covid-19 patients.
“These are temporary in nature, thus the need for this measure,” said Cayetano.
Under Section 6 of the Quarantine Act of 2004, the director of the Bureau of Quarantine has the authority to establish additional quarantine stations, grounds and anchorages if he deems these necessary to prevent the introduction of diseases of international concern to the country.
Cayetano pointed out that such authority may be limited due to the Bureau of Quarantine’s budgetary constraints.
She said the additional quarantine facilities should be under the Department of Health (DOH).
Cayetano said the health secretary should also lay down coordination measures involving relevant government agencies and the private sector to ensure the safety of persons under investigation, health workers and the community.
For his part, Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao has proposed the immediate establishment of an all Covid-19 patients’ facility with a minimum capacity of 20,000 beds.
“There is an urgent need to establish a single facility for all Covid-19 patients,” Pacquiao said in filing Senate Bill No. 1445.
Pacquiao said there is an urgent need for the government to come up with a strong public health approach in dealing with the situation due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases and the DOH and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that the country will reach its peak in two to three months.
The creation of a National Covid-19 Center or the proposed Covid-19 Disease Prevention and Control Center to respond to the medical emergency is an indispensable element, he stressed.
“Majority of the hospitals, both public and private, have reached the threshold of their full capacity. There is an urgent need for a single facility for all Covid-19 patients so government can maximize its virus control measures,” Pacquiao said.
According to Pacquiao, Section 11, Article 13 of the 1987 Constitution provides for an adoption of an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development.
Under the bill, the facility shall be under the DOH. Its operating fund, maintenance and upgrading of its medical equipment shall be progressively increased yearly. In carrying out the establishment of the Covid-19 Disease Prevention and Control Center, Pacquiao said the amount needed shall be included in the DOH’s budget in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA) of the year following its enactment into law. /Stacy Ang