Military chief denies breaking quarantine
MANILA, Philippines–Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang on Monday said he did not breach protocol on the quarantine of the 138 Filipino peacekeepers who recently arrived from Ebola-stricken Liberia when he and acting Health Secretary Janette Garin made an “unprotected” visit to Caballo Island on Sunday.
In a press briefing, Catapang said it was Garin who invited him to visit the island without protective suits such as masks and gloves.
Catapang said Garin asked him to address the peacekeepers after she had received many text messages asking about the protocol in the quarantine of the peacekeepers.
“Acting Secretary Garin is the one dictating what is the protocol since she is the acting secretary of health. She is the one who dictates, so we are not violating anything because she was with us when we visited there if only to show this should be the protocol,” Catapang said.
Catapang, Garin and other top AFP and DOH officials went to the island to check on the peacekeepers who were on a 21-day mandatory quarantine.
On Friday, a peacekeeper was evacuated to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City due to fever. It was confirmed that he was suffering from malaria.
On criticism that he was defeating the purpose of the quarantine by visiting the peacekeepers, Catapang said he had to show to the public that the peacekeepers should not be feared since they had not shown any signs of the virus after passing the Ebola screening test on Nov. 8.
Catapang said he welcomed a proposal to also use the island to quarantine overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who will arrive from countries hit by Ebola as long as the DOH approved it.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said Monday that Filipino workers and travelers returning from three Ebola-stricken West African countries will be taken to an undisclosed place for a 21-day quarantine.
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