Following the surge of active COVID-19 cases, probably linked to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, the Quezon City local government has issued an updated set of guidelines for the management of cases placed on home isolation and quarantine by City health authorities.

Under Memorandum No. 04-22 Guidelines for Community Case Management for COVID-19 Program, the city government laid down home isolation rules for all suspect, probable, and confirmed COVID-19 cases, who are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms such as sore throat, fever, cough and colds.

Close contacts who are exposed to suspect, probable, and confirmed COVID-19 cases, and are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms, are also required to monitor their health in home quarantine.

On the other hand, individuals who are suspect, probable, or confirmed COVID-19 cases belonging to vulnerable groups such as the elderly and with comorbidities, pregnant, children, and the unvaccinated, or those who have moderate or severe symptoms, will be prioritized and transferred to city-owned hospitals or HOPE Community Care Facilities.

“It has been reported to us that the majority of recent cases of COVID-19 are either asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms. These cases usually recover with minimal intervention and may be managed at home under proper medical guidance and monitoring,” said Mayor Joy Belmonte.

The guidelines specified that individuals placed on home quarantine shall be issued a home quarantine order by the Quezon City Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (QCESU) and will be automatically enrolled in the Community Case Management for COVID-19 Program and given a Home Care Package.

The package consists of a homecare Kit, a hygiene kit, a home care instructions handbook, daily monitoring, and food assistance.

Non-confirmed COVID-19 patients will be given a basic homecare kit containing a thermometer, face masks, paracetamol, lagundi tablets, ascorbic acid, and a home care instructions handbook.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 positive patients will receive the homecare kitt for COVID-19 positive patients which consists of alcohol, oral rehydration salts, pulse oximeter, vitamins, and medicines for adults and children, in addition to all the items included in the basic homecare kit.

“Through these kits, our affected citizens will have one less thing to worry about. They can refocus their energies on their recovery and on making sure that the people around them are safe from the virus,” said Belmonte.

She emphasized that the home care instructions handbook, also included in the home care package, entitled “Gabay sa Pagtugon sa COVID-19 Para sa QCitizens” provides basic information and reminders for those in home isolation or quarantine, including a temperature and home monitoring log, as well as contact numbers of the barangays, healthcare facilities, and emergency hotline numbers.

Likewise, the city government will monitor individuals enrolled in the program on a daily basis either through teleconsultation through BantAI COVID, the health centers and city-owned hospitals, or through community visits and rounds conducted by the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs). Food assistance and other household supplies will also be provided to those on home quarantine or isolation.

The guidelines comply with the recommended duration of home isolation or quarantine as specified in the Department of Health Department Circular No. 2022-0002.

Individuals who test positive but are asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms will be discharged and end isolation after at least 10 days from the date of testing, regardless of their vaccination status. They must have had no symptoms for the last three days.

Close contacts who are fully vaccinated and are asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms are required to complete a minimum of 7-days isolation from the day of exposure; while partially vaccinated or unvaccinated contacts must complete not less than 14 days of isolation.

The guidelines state that the houses of those in home isolation or quarantine will be treated as Granular Lockdowns or Special Concern Lockdown areas, therefore individuals who are under home quarantine are warned against leaving their homes earlier than prescribed.

Those found in violation may be fined under relevant provisions of Republic Act No. 111332 or the Notifiable Diseases act and any other applicable laws or regulations.

The Quezon City government is awaiting the official communication from the DOH before implementing the new guidelines prescribing shorter isolation and quarantine protocols for fully vaccinated COVID-19 patients and close contacts.