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Solon sets aside probe vs Duque over DOH response on 2019-nCoV

/ 04:47 PM February 03, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker has pushed aside calls for an investigation on Health Secretary Francisco Duque III over criticisms on government’s response to threats of the novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV to the country.

Quezon Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan, chair of the House committee on health, said Monday the Department of Health (DOH) should not be bothered at the moment with their response measures.

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“Ako personally, ayokong abalahin sila, kasi alam ko 24 hours nagta-trabaho sila,” Tan said in a press briefing.

(Personally, I do not want to bother them because I know they are working 24 hours.)

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“Ang gusto kong matutukan nila, ma-improve kung ano ‘yung system na dapat i-improve. Kung kinakailangan talaga na makita mo na sobrang malaki ‘yung pagkukulang, siguro that’s the time na papatawag po para imbestigahan,” she added.

(What I want them to focus on is to improve whatever system needs to be improved. If we see that there indeed is a huge shortcoming, then maybe that’s the time that we call for a probe.)

Tan said she has been giving feedback to the health department whenever she sees lapses on their part.

Among these lapses, she noted, lie on DOH’s guidelines for health workers on the ground.

“Doon nakasaad kung ano ang mga protocols na gagawin ng mga health workers [on] the ground – paano mo sasabihin na ang patient ay under investigation or for monitoring,” Tan explained.

(The protocols to be followed by health workers on the ground are stated in that guidelines – how can a health worker say whether a patient is under investigation or for monitoring.)

“‘Yun ‘yung mga sinusunod nila and ito yung legal reference ng mga health workers [on] the ground. Kung wala kang legal reference na nanggaling mismo sa Department of Health signed by the Secretary, nahihirapan sila,” she added.

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(That’s what they follow and this is the legal reference of health workers on the ground. If they don’t have legal reference that came specifically from DOH signed by the Secretary, it’s difficult for them.)

According to Tan, if it were up to her, she would have ordered a temporary travel restriction as soon as the case of a new strain of the coronavirus in the city of Wuhan, China, was reported.

“Walang nakakaalam kung anong klaseng virus ‘yun eh so I’d rather be aggressive or overkill ang reaction or response rather than ngayon na nandito, naghahanap tayo… nagco-contact tracing tayo,” Tan said.

(No one knows what type of virus that is so I’d rather be aggressive or overkill with our reaction or response rather than what we are doing now that we are doing contact-tracing.)

A day before the country’s first case of the novel coronavirus was reported Duque faced the members of the House of Representatives to answer queries about the government’s response to the 2019-nCoV outbreak in Wuhan.

At that time, Duque said he was not inclined to impose a travel ban on China, saying that doing so could have repercussions – including China questioning why the same ban is not imposed on other countries that have also reported confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

As of February 3, there are two confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV in the country with one among them dead on Saturday, February 1.

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TAGS: Francisco Duque, Helen Tan, novel coronavirus
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