AFP and DOH makes a mockery and violates the quarantine they imposed on PHL soldiers who came from Liberia
this is the meaning of “quarantine” (from the internet):
- “a state, period, or place of isolation in which people or animals that have arrived from elsewhere or been exposed to infectious or contagious disease are placed.”
- “impose isolation on (a person, animal, or place); put in quarantine”.
and quarantine was the what the government wanted to do to the Philippine soldiers and policemen who served as UN peacekeepers in Liberia.
we were surprised when the government announced this action on the Philippine peacekeepers. we have been reading what the US has been doing to American medical personnel who have served in Ebola countries and they have not imposed forced quarantine on them. certainly not something like this where a government isolated a group of people were directly brought into an island straight from the airport upon arrival.
when they announced the mandatory quarantine on an inhabited island, i thought that didn’t match with any of the guidelines set out by international health agencies and prevailing current practice in other countries. so i thought, the Philippine government is doing this as it wants to take the Ebola scare very seriously and is exercising an over abundance of care and safety.
in the US, only those who exhibit Ebola-like symptoms are quarantined and brought to the hospital for observation and treatment. a nurse who had not exhibited symptoms but served in an Ebola-plagued country was not quarantined although on her own she decided on a self-imposed quarantine, promising she will not go to crowded places. she stayed in her home, not brought to an inhabited island.
we were surprised over the weekend when we read in the papers that officials of the DOH itself and the AFP actually went to Caballo Island to visit the soldiers.
Top AFP, DoH officials visit Pinoy peacekeepers on Caballo Island
that to us to say the least was very confusing – we thought the soldiers were being quarantined, why were they allowed to receive visitors from Metro Manila?
not only were they allowed to receive visitors, the visitors were from top DOH and AFP officials which we thought was obviously a violation of the quarantine that they themselves forcibly imposed on the soldiers. you cannot get higher than the chief of staff himself, General Catapang and acting DOH chief Garin.
not only that, pictures show the visiting tourists from the DOH and AFP did not wear any protective gear. we saw a picture of the soldiers on a boat on the way to the island. in that picture the three (3) personnel manning the boat wore full protective gear. why didn’t the AFP and DOH officials wear the same protective gear?
in news articles today, some mentioned that in this visit, the “elbow bump” was instituted as they were not allowed to shake hands. also in a Facebook post, AFP spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc posted “Bawal nga lang makipagkamay…” (“Handshakes are not allowed.”)
the “elbow bump” and the “no hand-shake” policy is directly contradictory to the picture of the three (3) boat handlers wearing full protective gear. all of a sudden in this visit to the island by the DPH and AFP officials, things about the Ebola and the extra ordinary effort of care and seriousness Ebola was given disappeared and reduced to something as trivial as “elbow bumps” are allowed and “let’s not just do handshakes”.
Catapang and Garin mingled with the peacekeepers, who are now allowed to roam around the island, only four days after they arrived there.
Garin said that she and the AFP updated the peacekeepers about the condition of their fellow peacekeeper who was evacuated to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) after developing fever on the second day of quarantine period.
“General Catapang and I visited our troops there (Caballo Island) and firstly we told them about the status of their fellow peacekeeper, and at the same time, we wanted to ensure they are all healthy,” said Garin.
For his part, Catapang said they mingled with the troops and developed a new way to greet each other –elbow to elbow.
the contradiction, inconsistency and reduction from dead seriousness to something very cavalier and trivial to us is shocking.
we also wondered that since these officials were allowed to visit the soldiers in the island, does that mean they will permit visits of this sort from relatives and friends of the soldiers? if the military and health officials found it safe for them to go to the island, why wouldn’t the relatives and friends of the soldiers be able to do the same as long as they do only what the officials did – elbow bumps to say hello.
we are searching for answers on why they went to the island. for what purpose?
“We are happy that (we visited them) together with Secretary Garin to show that worrying sometimes is difficult to douse from the people’s mind but if they see us mingling, talking and joking around, sharing happy moment there,” Catapang said.
Garin echoed Catapang’s call not to “isolate” the peacekeepers, who served an extended 11-month tour of duty in Liberia.
“We should not stigmatize or ostracize them,” Garin said.
we do not understand that. the “stigmatizing and ostracizing” is coming from where? if that is happening to them, then it is the AFP and DOH’s fault – they were the ones who imposed the forced quarantine on an inhabited island. the soldiers did not ask for that neither did the public. their action of quarantining them in the island is the one that is giving others reason to “stigmatize and ostracize them”.
we are very confused on the kinds of messages both the DOH and AFP are sending with what they have been doing with the soldiers. the messages are not only mixed, they are directly contradictory against each other. they want to show that they are very serious about taking precautions on the spread of Ebola by sending them to an island and yet the officials visit them. they will not allow contact or visits from relatives and friends of the soldiers and yet they themselves went there. staff who are helping them like the boat people wore full protective gear and yet they were in close contact with the soldiers, were “elbow to elbow” and did elbow bumps without protective gear.
are we turning schizophrenic here?
posted November 19, 2014:
this issue has become controversial since the time we first posted this here last november 17.
EDITORIAL – Irresponsible
If the government is 100 percent sure that the soldiers are virus-free, what’s the point of placing them under 21-day quarantine on an island?
That’s the question being asked after the acting secretary of health and the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines dropped in on Caballo Island, wearing no hazmat suits to protect them from possible infection, ostensibly to cheer up the soldiers who are undergoing a 21-day quarantine against the Ebola virus.
Perhaps the soldiers were cheered up, but the public was not. AFP chief Gregorio Catapang Jr. explained that his visit was meant to show that the soldiers were not supposed to be stigmatized. But who said they are?
Putting people under health quarantine is not meant to humiliate them or violate their rights. It is a precautionary measure to protect public health. That includes the health of those dear to the individuals being quarantined.
The government took the unusual measure in the case of 133 Filipino soldiers returning from United Nations peacekeeping duties in Ebola-hit Liberia because of the virulence of the disease. It’s no overreaction. Of the 5,177 confirmed deaths from the world’s worst Ebola outbreak, 2,812 were recorded in Liberia.
more to read here : http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2014/11/18/1392994/editorial-irresponsible
Biazon blasts Garin for breaking Ebola quarantinePosted at 11/18/2014 7:47 PM | Updated as of 11/18/2014 7:47 PM
MANILA – Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon on Tuesday criticized the visit of Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Janette Garin and other top government officials to the quarantined peacekeepers from Ebola-hit Liberia.
Biazon, at the weekly “Ugnayan sa Batasan,” said, “I think the visit of these high officials of the government was to say the least a misjudgment. Misjudgment not only in the actions that they did there but what they projected to the public.”
“We have a protocol and there is no reason why protocols should be violated. We are endangering the people. The soldiers there know and understand why they have to be quarantined and I think the families know why the husbands, or sons or brothers will have to be quarantined because what is being safeguarded first are their families, their friends, the communities where they will be and probably the whole country so we cannot compromise the implementation of the protocol. There is no reason why the protocol may be violated,” he said.
the two pictures we have posted here is a stark and obvious visualization of the confusion and contradictory protocol of the DOH and AFP’s quarantine of the soldiers:
picture on the left shows four (4) boat handlers wearing full protective gears as they take the soldiers to the island. picture on the right is a stark contrast where DOH Sec Garin, General Catapang and other military visitors were not only not wearing protective gears, they were quite near the quarantined soldiers.
we know that Ebola starts to be contagious when the patients are already showing symptoms but the point we are saying here is that there is an obvious breach of the protocol. we assume the boat handlers wearing the protective gear was part of the protocol and yet that same protocol was not followed in the picture on the right.
Pia Cayetano won’t shake hand of GarinPosted at 11/19/2014 4:43 PM | Updated as of 11/19/2014 4:43 PM
MANILA – Senator Pia Cayetano said she will give Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin the “Ebola greeting” instead of a hand shake when she sees her during the budget deliberations of the department.
She said the Ebola greeting – placing one’s fist on the heart – is now a symbolic gesture in West Africa following the spread of the virus there.
She said the gesture is not really unusual since it can only mean “sorry, I can’t shake your hand or kiss you today.”
Garin is being criticized for allegedly breaking the 21-day protocol when she and other military officials visited the troops in Caballo Island where they were brought after coming from their duties in Ebola-affected Liberia.
Cayetano said she is still unfamiliar with the protocols, which is why an “Ebola greeting” would be safe.
the above – someone not shaking the hand of someone who may have had contact with a potential Ebola victim is both sad and ironical. in the press interview, DOH sec Garin explained that one of the reasons they went to the island was to send a message that the soldiers should not have a “stigmatized and ostracized”. well the statement of senator Cayetano does exactly that. and that occurred only because Sec Garin broke protocol and went to the island.