A House leader on Saturday urged telecommunications companies (telcos) to provide free wi-fi and internet service to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients in isolation facilities throughout the country.
“The provision of such service will encourage those asymptomatic and with mild and moderate illness to isolate themselves in these facilities. That will lessen virus transmission, since many recent reported small clusters were households where an infected member isolating at home spread the virus,” House Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo said.
That in turn will free up space in hospitals for patients with severe and critical COVID-19, and ease congestion in the healthcare system and pressure on the already tired medical personnel, Castelo said.
“The pandemic response task force and local government units should continue to seek out and encourage patients who show no symptoms or are classified as mild and moderate cases to go to isolation patients so they would not infect their families and other persons,” Castelo said.
Castelo added that one way of encouragement is to provide isolation facilities with free internet service.
“That will allow them to get in touch with their families and lessen their sense of being alone in a distant area far from home,” she stressed.
She said many of the quarantine centers in the provinces are so remote that they do not have mobile phone and internet connectivity.
“It’s good if they have, but I doubt it. In fact, I doubt if all isolation facilities in the Metro Manila Plus area have wi-fi/internet service,” she said.
Castelo pointed out that providing free connectivity to these facilities would be part of the telcos’ fulfillment of their social responsibility.
“The pandemic is giving them a windfall. They are among the few companies raking in profits amid misery and suffering. They should return part of it to the people in terms of free service,” she added.