DOT holding shopping festival as DOH airs caution
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) prepared to launch on Sunday the first Philippine Shopping Festival across the country during the whole month of March to shore up sagging tourism receipts.
But concerned about the possibility of locally transmitting the deadly coronavirus, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III discouraged the public from going to crowded places to reduce the risk of viral infection.
“If it can be helped, we discourage people from going to places where there [are many] people just to make sure that [there’s] no increased risk [of COVID-19]. We don’t encourage it,” Duque told reporters in a briefing on Friday.
But the DOT’s Philippine Shopping Festival has been in the pipeline since last year.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has said that the COVID-19 outbreak is forecast to cause nearly P43 billion in losses for the local tourism industry from February to April.
P16-B tourism loss
For February alone, Puyat said the country is expected to lose over P16.8 billion in tourism receipts.
The outbreak has already affected 38 countries and the tourism sector has taken a beating as various flights have been canceled and many travelers have postponed their trips for fear of contracting the disease.
Moreover, the government has already imposed a travel ban on travelers from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and South Korea although most of the country’s visitors come from those territories.
But the Philippines continues to remain one of the Asian countries that have not recorded a single case of locally transmitted COVID-19.
Disinfectants a must
The three positive cases so far recorded in the country all involved Chinese nationals who came to the Philippines on vacation. Two of them have since recovered and returned to China, while one died of pneumonia.
Nonetheless, Duque reminded establishments participating in the Philippine Shopping Festival that they should observe disinfection procedures to help protect the public.
“The availability of disinfectants must be there, provided by the mall management. Guards or whoever is designated [should] do thermal [checks] on everyone who enters the mall. [Those] will more or less reduce the risk,” he said.
Duque added that malls should also have the capacity to manage cases should one of their shoppers show symptoms of the disease.
The World Health Organization earlier said that COVID-19 could be transmitted by an infected individual through respiratory droplets or by touching surfaces where the virus is present. The virus can survive for up to 10 hours on surfaces.
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