By Genalyn Kabiling
As the country recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus, the government has appealed to the public “not to panic” and assured them about intensified measures to curb the spread of the illness.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the government has stepped up stringent customs, immigration, and quarantine measures against the virus.
“With the first confirmed case of the 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), we ask the public not to panic and to remain calm, as the government, especially the Department of Health (DOH), is on top of the situation. We would like to assure them that the relevant health, research, and law enforcement agencies are working together to prevent the disease from spreading,” he said in a statement Thursday.
“Let’s continue to remain calm and heed the advisories of the DOH and the rest of the government on the matter, as we continue to monitor such developments and take the appropriate actions in dealing with the 2019-nCoV.”
The health department earlier on Thursday announced that a 38-year-old Chinese woman tested positive for the virus. The patient traveled to the country last Jan. 21 from Wuhan, where the virus outbreak started.
No ban on Chinese travelers has been ordered by the government so far, despite calls from concerned groups.
Andanar said the DOH is working closely with health and research authorities in Australia, Japan, and China on efforts to contain the coronavirus. “In fact, with the help of our counterparts in Japan, we are now capable of detecting and diagnosing 2019-nCoV-infected patients on our own.”
The government has also intensified “containment measures and the necessary precautionary measures” to address the latest health concern, Andanar said.
“With the continuous inflow of travelers coming from affected areas in China, we will continue to conduct necessary stringent customs, immigration, and quarantine measures to prevent the disease from spreading within the country.”
To Filipinos staying in China, Andanar said the government would coordinate with Chinese authorities to repatriate nationals “as needed.”
A coronavirus hotline will also be established to help Filipinos abroad, including those living in China, with virus prevention and countermeasures.
Andanar, meanwhile, urged the public to observe health advisories issued by the DOH to prevent infection.
“Let us also observe proper hygiene and cleanliness in order to prevent the likelihood of contracting the virus. Please remain vigilant and coordinate with your local barangay health centers should you observe symptoms associated with the 2019-nCoV.”