Bong Go urges agencies to impose strict measures after PH’s first nCoV case
MANILA, Philippines–Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Thursday urged concerned authorities to strictly impose precautionary measures to protect the Filipinos following the health department’s confirmation of the first novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) case in the Philippines.
“I am urging authorities concerned to strictly impose precautionary measures to protect [the welfare of] Filipinos by implementing quarantine procedures and providing regular advisories to guide the public. Walang tulugan sa pagmanman [Stay alert in monitoring],” Go said in a statement.
As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health, Go said the Senate panel would conduct a hearing on the matter on February 4, to come up with effective ways on how to address the threat.
“We will invite representatives from all concerned agencies, especially from DOH, DFA [Department of Health and Department of Foreign Affairs] and airport officials. Our priority is to lay down measures to help ensure the safety of Filipinos,” Go added.
The senator said Philippine officers are on alert, especially those assigned in airports and other points of entry to detect passengers having flu-like symptoms.
“Bantay sarado po ang ating mga officials dito lalong lalo na sa airport and other points of entry. Mayroon tayong thermal scanners in different points of entry all over the country. Itong sinasabi ng DOH officials natin ngayon ay first ever case kaya nakatutok talaga ang gobyerno dito at walang dapat magpabaya [Our officials are on alert especially in airports. We have thermal scanners all over the country’s ports of entry. The DOH’s announcement is about the first ever case so we really need to monitor this so that no one would become negligent], Go said.
Communicable disease preparedness procedures on all CAAP-operated airports, especially in international gateways were reactivated by CAAP. Airport personnel are told to be extremely vigilant in handling passenger arrivals to strictly monitor those who are possibly infected by the virus, he said.
In a press conference earlier on Thursday, the DOH has confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus in the Philippines. The patient is a 38-year-old woman from Wuhan who arrived in the Philippines last January 21, via Hong Kong. The patient was admitted to a government hospital last January 25 after experiencing mild cough.
“Kani-kanina lamang ay nakausap ko si Sec. Francisco Duque III. Ngayon po ay nasa San Lazaro hospital daw itong pasyente. Contained naman ito at pinapangalagaan ito ng ating health officials at doctors. Nasa 14-day period of quarantine ang patient at ginagamot na siya. Importante ay hindi ito makahawa ng iba,” Go pointed out.
As of Thursday, DOH has recorded a total of 29 Persons Under Investigation (PUIs): 18 in Metro Manila, 4 in Central Visayas, 3 in Western Visayas, one in Mimaropa, 1 in Eastern Visayas, 1 in Northern Mindanao, and 1 in Davao. DOH assured that its health facilities are equipped and prepared to receive and care for PUIs and confirmed 2019-nCoV cases.
“I am in agreement with DOH and we will recommend, if necessary, to impose temporary restrictions of travel for those from the entire province of Hubei while assessing if there is a need to add to the list with travel restrictions more places affected by the infection,” Go said.
“Sa ngayon, wala pa pong desisyon ang ating Pangulo na i-ban yung pagpasok ng lahat ng Chinese nationals kasi hindi lang naman po ang China ang tinamaan ng virus na ito. May ibang bansa rin po na tinamaan. It will not be proper if we will single out on China alone,” he explained.
Public advisories about coronavirus infections and the strict monitoring of suspected passengers are also being enforced. NAIA and other international airports are in full coordination with the Bureau of Quarantine in support of their safety protocols.
More strict security measures are also in place, especially in areas frequently visited by tourists such as Cebu, Bohol and Caticlan in Aklan. Flights from Wuhan to Kalibo were also canceled since January 23, and passengers who arrived in Kalibo were sent back last Jan 27.
The Philippine Coast Guard advised all medical units in its 13 Coast Guard Districts to be on high alert. Strict passenger screening and safety measures are also in place on the country’s land terminals and railway networks.
“I am asking all Filipinos to cooperate with the government and to follow the guidelines provided by our health experts. Wash your hands frequently, avoid contact with live animals, drink plenty of water and make sure that food being consumed are cooked properly. Avoid public places, avoid contact with those who have cough and colds and always cover one’s mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing to stop the possible spread of viruses. Those with flu-like symptoms are also advised to consult a doctor,” Go said.
“Let us not panic, but at the same time, let us take the threat seriously and cooperate with authorities in order to ensure the safety of Filipinos.”
The DFA has been in close coordination with the Philippine consulate in Shanghai regarding the Filipinos staying in Wuhan. So far, there are around 40 Filipinos in Wuhan who expressed intent to go home and the DFA is expected to release an updated number soon.
Edited by JPV
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