By Martin Sadongdong
After the first confirmed case of 2019 novel corona virus (nCoV) in the Philippines, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has been placed on “high readiness mode” to help the Department of Health (DOH) address the situation by monitoring the major entry points in the country for possible detection of infected persons.
Police Brigadier General Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, urged the public to remain calm, composed and informed as he assured them that the national government remains on top of the situation.
“Our local police units are on high readiness mode, awaiting notice if needed by DOH to track down persons that may have recklessly circumvented quarantine protocol imposed by authorities,” Banac said on Thurday night.
According to Banac, the PNP Maritime Group (MG) and Aviation Security Group (AVSEGROUP) were placed on standby by Police General Archie Gamboa, PNP Chief, so that they can be mobilized instantly if there is a need for police assistance in seaports or airports as the monitoring of those places are deemed necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.
The PNP Health Service (HS) has also established a direct hotline of communication with the DOH for lateral implementation of public health measures, Banac added.
“We assure the public that the PNP remains alert and vigilant to ensure public order and safety, and prevent criminal elements from taking advantage of the situation,” the PNP spokesperson noted.
The monitoring of possible infected persons is crucial as authorities were already tracing individuals that came in contact with the 38-year-old female Chinese from Wuhan, China who was defclared the first confirmed case of nCoV infection in the Philippines.
According to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, the patient arrived in the Philippines last January 21 and reportedly went to Cebu and Dumaguete. The patient has since been admitted at San Lazaro Hospital where she is being monitored.
Duque said Friday that at least 31 persons under investigation (PUIs) were being monitored for possible nCoV infection in the country.
Earlier in the day, DOH Epidemiology Bureau director, Dr. Ferchito Avelino sain in a TV interview over CNN Philippines that there have been 56 PUIs related to the deadly respiratory disease.
Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said it likewise stands ready to assist the DOH in managing the situation.
“The NDRRMC will follow the lead of DOH being the subject matter expert on this concern,” NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal said.
“Just like what was done in the dengue outbreak and other previous health emergencies, all the member-agencies of the NDRRMC are ready to provide support to all the actions that will be recommended and implemented by DOH,” he added.