By Charissa Luci-Atienza
“Take politics out of the situation, and stop blame game.”
This was the appeal made by former health secretary and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin as the Philippines recorded its first death of a patient who tested positive for the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV).
“Let us stop blaming the people. Let us stop blaming agencies. Let us go to work and help the global community,” she said in a radio interview.
She appealed anew to the public not to panic, and to stop spreading fake news that may further worsen the situation.
“We have to go back to basic. Ang dapat nating isipin (What we should think is that) this is time that we have to unite together. Kasi ito ay virus versus tao (because this is virus versus people). This is not about China vs America, Philippines vs other races,” Garin said.
She said the more than 20 countries affected by the coronoavirus should help each other and not to “discriminate” as far as information and technology-sharing was concerned.
“Few weeks ago , the Chinese Ministry of Health said there was still transmission of the virus even if the patient was asymptomatic. It was answered by the US CDC (United States-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), by saying that we haven’t heard of that, that is not substantiated by facts,” she said.
“This exchange of information is very important. What will happen to the world if we discriminate others, at meron tayong kanya kanyang pinaghahawakan (we have our own take). Remember the source of the cure is where the infection is,” Garin noted.
She cited that China showed “strong political will” when it declared lockdown on Wuhan in Hubei province more than a week ago.
“That is very strong political will because a lockdown would mean economic downfall. That lockdown actually protected the whole world because Wuhan, Hubei province is one of the central tourist destinations. Many students and traders have been travelling there. If they did not do that, the situation might worsen,” she said.
Garin said even if the Philippines imposed travel restrictions, there was no assurance that the virus will be contained.
“It will not be that easy. Hindi ganun kadali sugpuin ang virus lalo na’t may regular movement ang tao palagi.(It is not that easy to fight the virus, especially that the people always have regular movement),” she said.
“We don’t know if this can eliminated like SARS(Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) or this will continue as MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus),” she added.