Solons say coronavirus screening on Taal relief workers needed

Published January 23, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ellson Quismorio

Makabayan lawmakers underscored on Thursday the need for efficient health screening, surveillance, and monitoring against the new coronavirus for relief workers in order to prevent them from contracting it.

The Joint Session of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao commences in the Plenary of the Batasang Pambansa on December 13, 2017. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

Worse, the 2019 novel coronavirus could end up getting passed among evacuees of the Taal Volcano disaster if authorities aren’t careful.

“Dapat may mechanism in place at ready na kung sakaling makapasok at kumalat ang 2019 novel coronavirus (We should have a ready mechanism in case the 2019 novel coronavirus enters and spreads in the country),” Bayan Muna party-List Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said.

“Tulad sa disaster sa Taal (Like with the Taal disaster), we need adequate preparations and effective response and we hope that they are now in place. Bantayan lang din dapat mabuti ang screening ng sinuman na manggagaling sa infected areas, maski relief workers, dahil baka magka-infect pa sa evacuees (We should just impose proper screening on anyone coming from the infected areas, even relief workers, because they might infect the evacuees),” Gaite said.

The new coronavirus strain originated from the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei late last year. It has reportedly spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as other countries such as the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. Reports said that it has claimed 17 lives so far.

Bayan Muna party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate said there is a need to quell paranoia and panic among people in connection with the deadly disease.

“We already dealt with this type of situation before when SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) killed nearly 800 people, mostly from mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003, and this was so close to the Philippines but we were able to contain it,” said Zarate, who is a Senior Deputy Minority leader.

“We should ensure adequate preparations — supplies, medicines, facilities, adequate personnel and budget — like when we dealt with SARS so as to restrict its entry in the country and contain it, if it does. The front line agencies, like the DOH (Department of Health), airport and seaport authorities, immigration, should be very pro-active in instituting preventive measures now,” he said.

Taal Volcano in Batangas erupted last Jan. 12, ejecting a hot column of ash that subsequently covered nearby towns. Thousands of families have since been evacuated by authorities in fear of a more devastating eruption.