By Ellson Quismorio
The Department of Health (DOH) should consider using local government units (LGUs) in helping spread timely and easy-to-understand information regarding the dreaded 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV), House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said on Sunday.
This, as Cayetano said his fellow House members, who represent the various districts of the country, could assist in providing the public with correct information on how to avoid contracting the illness and prevent its spread.
“The best way to control the spread of nCoV is through prevention. If our countrymen have the correct information, then they can take the necessary measure to avoid contracting the virus and stay healthy,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano said tapping the LGUs and the congressmen in disseminating information about nCoV would also help assure the public that the government is fully transparent on the issue.
“We have social media to help inform us, but the information that we are sometimes getting are confusing because they are unverified and do not come from official channels. Kung tutulungan natin ang DOH na maipalaganap ang tamang impormasyon tungkol sa novel coronavirus, maiiwasan ang panic at health scare,” the Speaker said.
(We can avoid panic and health scare if we help the DOH spread correct information about the novel coronavirus.)
“Magkakaroon ng tamang guidance ang ating mga kababayan patungkol sa nCoV dahil reliable ang makukuha nilang impormasyon tungkol sa sakit na ito (Our countrymen will get the correct guidance on nCoV from this reliable information on the disease),” he added.
On January 30, the DOH bared that a 38-year-old female Chinese patient under investigation (PUI) was positive from nCoV, making her the first confirmed case in the country.
The Health department earlier assured the public that all necessary precautionary measures are being taken to halt the spread of the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier declared the novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (ARD) health event as a public health emergency of international concern after an emergency committee convened in Geneva, Switzerland.
There are 7,818 confirmed nCoV cases as of January 30, according to WHO. It reportedly originated in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province in China.
Meanwhile, a neophyte House member reckoned that the national government should now start assembling standard protocols and best practices in dealing with disease outbreaks and even possible biohazard emergencies in light of nCoV’s emergence.
Ang Probinsyano Party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong commented that initial government response to nCoV was “chaotic” and that the command-and-control mechanism was not quickly established “thereby causing delays in the implementation of counter-measures especially in the country’s ports and airports.”
“Had there been established protocols and command-and-control structure, a quicker response especially in terms of handling potential carriers would have been possible. Imagine, even days after the disease was detected to have come from Wuhan province of China, a plane full of Wuhan tourists still managed to get through our border,” he said.
Ong noted that unlike earthquakes, typhoons and other natural calamities, disease outbreaks and even man-made biohazard attacks would require a different response to protect the general population from large-scale contagion.