Senate willing to hold special session to pass COVID-19 budget
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate is “more than willing” to hold a special session to pass a supplemental budget that would augment the funds for the government’s response to the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said this on Wednesday after the House Committee on Appropriations approved a P1.6-billion supplemental budget for the country’s response to COVID-19 two days before Congress goes on a two-month break.
“It’s possible [to have a special session]. We can have that if the President calls for a special session for the supplemental budget,” Zubiri, speaking partly in Filipino, told reporters in an interview on Wednesday.
“We are more than willing to come back to work because that is our duty as representatives of the people,” he added.
Congress will go on break on March 12 and will resume its session on May 4.
Purchase, mass-produce test kits
Zubiri, meanwhile, reiterated his call for the government to purchase more testing kits.
“We have to be very, very careful. We need to buy more testing kits… The very first step that the DOH [Department of Health] has to take is to go out and buy from abroad or source locally from the UP scientists and start mass producing it and bring it all over the Philippines,” he said.
“The problem is we think that this is only in Metro Manila. But we did not lock down domestic travel. So we don’t know if someone who contracted the virus went to Cagayan de Oro to Davao or Cebu or North Luzon. So we need testing kits across the country. We need more testing right away,” he added.
As of this writing, the Philippines has 49 confirmed cases of COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that first emerged in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province in late 2019.
The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses named the novel coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2.
The virus causes mild symptoms such as fever and cough for most people, but it can cause serious illness, such as pneumonia for others, especially older adults and people with health problems.
The coronavirus is a family of viruses, with surfaces that have a crown-like appearance. The viruses are named for the spikes on their surfaces.
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