THE presidential palace on Thursday blamed Health authorities for unclear home quarantine rules that supposedly caused a surge in coronavirus infections.

“The Department of Health (DoH) wasn’t clear that asymptomatic and mild cases can stay home,” presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque told reporters on Thursday in Filipihno. “They didn’t clear that you must have your own room and bathroom.”

But the government is correcting it now, he said. “We have fully intensified our testing.”

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire earlier said home quarantine was still allowed as long as health protocols were followed.

She issued the statement after Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles told DZBB radio home quarantine was being discouraged to contain the pandemic.

An inter-agency task force made up of Cabinet secretaries has launched a program accepting COVID-19 patients whose houses are not suitable for home quarantine at isolation facilities.

“That less than two weeks after this Oplan Kalinga was launched, our isolation centers were getting full,” Mr. Roque said. “That’s how great the positive cases are because of intensified testing.”

“The DoH perhaps should have been clearer at the onset that you should stay home if you have your own room and you have your own bathroom,” he said.

DoH reported 2,200 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, bringing the total to 74,390. The death toll rose to 1,871 after 28 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 760 to 24,383, it said in a bulletin. There were 48,136 active cases, it added.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire traced the increase in deaths to reports from Central Visayas.

She reiterated that confirmed COVID-19 patients with mild or no symptoms may get home quarantined if they have their own bedroom and toilet. Otherwise, they should be treated at the nearest temporary treatment and monitoring facility, she said. 

People under home quarantine must also not have elderly, pregnant, or family members with medical conditions in the house.

Meanwhile, the palace said no staff member of Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM)  had tested positive for the coronavirus, correcting an earlier statement in the day that said otherwise.

Mr. Roque said some workers from the Presidential Communications Operations Office had been infected with the virus, not from the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson. Gillian M. Cortez and Vann Marlo M. Villegas