NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 10 January) — Anybody infected of the COVID-19 virus infects others, too. SARS-Cov-19, especially its latest tenacious variant – Omicron, is that powerful as to penetrate the shield of the vaccine and thus also infects the vaccinated, a phenomenon called by the science community as breakthrough infection. Such that, as far as infection is concerned, there is no difference between the unvaccinated and the vaccinated; both could be infected by COVID-19 and both could serve as transmitting agents of the disease. For instance, health workers, who already had their booster dose, count among the many of the infected.
The above, notwithstanding, the President issued order to barangay chiefs to prohibit the unvaccinated from leaving their homes, except in performing essential activities. Those who violate the stay-at-home order should be restrained or arrested.
Without saying it, the order is based on the perception that the unvaccinated could serve as fodder to the raging coronavirus wildfire and thus have to be set apart if only to stop or curb its disastrous further spread.
True, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated can both be infected by the COVID-19 virus. The former, however, are likely to suffer only from mild symptoms or even be asymptomatic, while the latter may experience severe symptoms that requires hospitalization. Thus, the unvaccinated, when infected, could overwhelm our healthcare system and infect more in the periphery. Accordingly, 85 % of those confined in healthcare facilities at the instance of the Omicron rampage are unvaccinated, where 50 % of the cases are pediatric. In fact, some hospitals, which are experiencing shortage of healthcare workers because of the infection of the rank, now allow their COVID-19 positive but asymptomatic workers to attend to COVID-19 patients. The prevalence of in-house transmission may jeopardize the non-COVID-19 patients and may yet put in the bind our healthcare system.
The draconian order of the President has reason and logic. It has, however, a legal issue. It impairs the right of the citizens to travel. The right to travel is part of the liberty of which a citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law and only on clear and compelling grounds of national security, public health and public safety as mandated by the Constitution (Section 6, Article III).
The verbal order of President Duterte is not law. It is not a legal basis for law enforcers to suspend the right of citizens at issue. MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)