More quarantine violations logged than individuals tested for COVID-19; increased health capacity, testing, and social amelioration needed over victim-blaming in a pandemic setting
Three days since the end of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, comparable data and statistics were released by different government authorities regarding the situation. Law enforcement authorities revealed today that from 17 March to 2 May, there were a total of 158,353 quarantine violators, with 42,138 arrests made. The rest were either warned or fined for disobeying protocols and curfew.
On the other hand, the DOH reported that it has tested just 106,520 unique individuals and 120,736 conducted overall, in the same time period. Currently, testing capacity is over 5,264/day, missing the eight-thousand target for April’s end. These developments are concerning since the numbers point out the priorities of ECQ implementation. Apart from the shortcomings in testing, it seems that peace-and-order concerns take precedence over health interventions.
There is a tendency to view the population in black and white—those who follow quarantine procedures and those who allegedly spread COVID-19 due to their misdeeds. However, the Coalition for People’s Right to Health insists that victim-blaming only worsens the inequities already present, both in class and in health access. Just like the drug war, the situation must first be seen as a health issue.
Quarantine violators do not simply choose to disobey, facing hunger and anxieties amidst a society with an uneven terrain of opportunity. The social amelioration program must meet its targets, even though it may be insufficient to meet daily needs under quarantine. The need for a more humane standard of living that addresses the social determinants of health must be addressed: nutritious food, potable water, lost income, decent housing, and ultimately, human dignity and rights.
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