Health department urges compliance with quarantine facility rules | 02 September 2020
Around 925 persons have thus far been admitted to one of the three quarantine facilities established to limit and stop the propagation of Covid-19, since the establishment of the first facility in February.
Of the 925, six tested positive for Covid-19 and were transferred to the isolation and treatment centre at the Persévérance Family Hospital according to statistics provided by the department of health yesterday during the bi-weekly press update at the Sheikh Khalifa diagnostic centre.
Dr Josapha Jouanneau, who is responsible for quarantine, noted the various challenges the department is faced with in managing the facilities, including lack of cooperation displayed by some members of the public.
“Quarantine is a public health strategy to reduce or prevent the propagation of Covid-19 within the community. It involves restricting the movement and isolating a person, monitoring and checking of symptoms daily, daily temperature checks, and as you are aware, some people may have other underlying health conditions which we also cater for in our quarantine facilities,” said Dr Jouanneau.
“One of the evident challenges is that the centres designated as quarantine facilities were not designed for such a purpose and we have had to adapt. There is also the psychological aspect, as some people are not used to being confined but we try our best to keep clients comfortable, although we are aware that 14 days of isolation is not easy,” Dr Jouanneau noted, adding that the department is seizing the opportunity to educate persons in quarantine about the virus.
Furthermore, he noted that asides from daily temperature checks and monitoring, health professionals must always remain vigilant so as to protect themselves against the virus. Around the globe, numerous health workers have lost their lives to the virus.
According to Marie-Antoinette Hoareau, who oversees the administration of all the facilities, one of the main concerns is friction between patients and healthcare professionals, who until recently had not received training to handle such situations. Ms Hoareau noted difficulties mostly with recovering drug addicts and patients requiring additional healthcare services, some of whom are abusive to employees.
Ms Hoareau further noted that once patients are checked into their rooms, they are supposed to remain there for the 14-day period but the department has found itself over the past three weeks having to assign a half hour slot to allow some who wish to be outside, in designated areas to do so.
“We have demarcated the areas where they can simply be outside or go for a little jog and it’s been three weeks since we started. Again, we are facing many challenges, because they have been told it is at their own risk and they have to wear masks, and maintain social distancing, some clients respect this but others don’t. Some even use profane language and don’t respect the boundary,” Ms Hoareau noted.
With regards to what family members are permitted to bring to persons in quarantine, Ms Hoareau noted that clothing items, toiletries and some food items are permitted, while alcohol and cigarettes are not permitted. In the past, the authorities have been faced with a significant number of complaints and disregard of the rules in place. To cater for the smokers, persons have been permitted a minimum number of cigarettes, and are allowed to smoke in a designated spot during the brief break period, or inside their rooms.
As for home quarantine, certain criteria must be satisfied in order for a house to be deemed safe for quarantine, among which is the requirement that the person to be quarantined has access to facilities including bathroom and sleeping for their individual use for the 14-day period. Special exceptions may include persons with new-borns, elderly patients or others with health conditions which may be worsened by noise and other such inconveniences.
“If we are not responsible, this makes it difficult as the objective is to protect society and stop the spread of the infection. Luckily, for the time being, we have capacity to accommodate more persons in our facilities but if ever, in future there is an outbreak and many have been exposed, it could overwhelm our capacity, and maybe then, we will allow such,” Dr Jouanneau stated.
Currently, persons from low-risk countries are permitted to quarantine at home while others from high-risk countries are admitted into quarantine facilities. Persons are tested and held at quarantine facilities before being permitted to home quarantine.
To conclude, the panellists expressed gratitude to all partners, employees of the department of health and the general public who are cooperative. Appeals were launched to others to be prudent and compliant to health protocols and measures in place.
There are currently three quarantine facilities, namely Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay, Coastguard facility at Persévérance and a third on South East Island. The Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay quarantine facility boasts 143 rooms.
The isolation and treatment centre on the other hand, has the capacity to accommodate 30 patients, says Dr Sarka Victorova, who oversees the centre. A total of six patients can be cared for at the intensive care unit (ICU) simultaneously and other facilities such as operating theatres are also available on hand. Three doctors, nurses and nursing assistants provide healthcare services at the centre.