The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) slammed the Department of Health (DOH) order to shorten the duration of isolation and quarantine of fully-vaccinated health workers, stressing it would endanger their health and patients’ as well.

DOH Circular 2022-002 Section E or the “Amended Quarantine and Isolation Period for Health Care Workers as Contingency Measure for Sustaining Health Care Capacity” authorizes the Hospital Infection Prevention & Control Committees and Provincial Health Officers for a shortened quarantine.

The AHW workers said the DOH ordered an isolation period for 10 days for the vaccinated and unvaccinated COVID-19 positive general public while a shortened isolation protocol of five days was ordered for the health workers who are infected with COVID-19.

Worse, the quarantine days of the general public in close contact with COVID-19 positive was shortened to seven days while health workers, who are at high-risk, in contact with COVID-19 positive patients are no longer required to be quarantined.

AHW believes that shortening the duration of isolation for the health workers with positive cases – asymptomatic, mild and moderate will pose further danger to the health and safety of health workers as well as the patients.

The group also warned it will further accelerate the proliferation and spread of infection.

Furthermore, AHW said the policy made by the DOH, IATF and Duterte administration to create distinction between the general public and the health workers on the number of days of isolation of COVID positive cases and quarantine days of those with close contacts to COVID positive is illogical and unscientific because the virus that infects the general public is no different from the virus that infects the health workers.

In accordance with the DOH Circular, Philippine General Hospital (PGH) issued a Memorandum ordering the fully vaccinated health workers who had high-risk exposure to COVID-19 and are asymptomatic to report back to work effective immediately.

Worst, they are not required to undergo COVID testing anymore because they are asymptomatic.

The health workers noted the DOH cannot simply assume that symptoms will appear immediately.

“Health workers with high-risk exposure to COVID-19 with or without symptoms should be quarantined and undergo an RT-PCR test. A free, regular and mandatory RT-PCR test should be provided to all health workers in every high-risk exposure to COVID-19,” the group said.
AHW President Robert Mendoza assailed the DOH Circular as completely inhumane and unjust to health workers who are risking their lives in battling the infectious and deadly virus.

He said the DOH, IATF and the Duterte government are not really sincere in addressing the sad plight of the health workers.

“They called us modern day heroes but in reality, we were treated as modern day slaves as they continuously exploited us in this time of COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mendoza.

“Reducing the days of isolation and quarantine of infected health workers will never solve the chronic and acute problem of understaffing of health workers who for the longest time are burned out, had meager wages and felt betrayed by the unjust treatment of this government by not releasing the COVID benefits of the health workers,” he said.

“Clearly, the health workers now are shouldering the burden brought about by the criminal neglect and failure of the DOH and this government. They are further putting the health and lives of the health workers at risk,” Mendoza further stated.

“We call on the DOH, IATF and Duterte government to implement mass hiring of regular health workers with living wage as a solution in sustaining our health care capacity so our public hospitals will not be overwhelmed. Definitely a shortened duration of isolation and quarantine protocol is not the solution,” he said.