At a time when reports of new coronavirus cases come up every day, it was good to hear the statement of the World Health Organization (WHO) representative in the Philippines at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health last week that the spread of the virus is expected to peak this month and will then begin to decline.
WHO representative in the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe said reports indicate that the mortality rate appears to be declining from 3 percent to 2 percent, an indication of the successful efforts of hospitals in China and around the world to keep the disease in check.
Globally, he said, there were as of Tuesday over 24,300 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection, with 490 deaths, all in mainland China except for one in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong. Some 20 other countries have reported cases that they have been quickly quarantined.
The cases will continue for sometime, he said, but the WHO Emergency Committee, expects that with the prevention and control measures in China and all other countries, the coronavirus can be controlled.
We continue to have fears about the coronavirus because many Filipinos are now returning home from China. Forty-two of them, from the province of Hubei, where Wuhan is located, are due to arrive anytime now, and all is ready for their two-week quarantine at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.
The Department of Health (DOH) has already established protocols for other Filipinos will also be returning soon. Aside from Fort Magsaysay, there are also two new buildings at Clark City that had been built for the recent Southeast Asian Games.
A more worrying case is that of some 270 airline passengers who were aboard three flights used by a Chinese couple when they came from Wuhan, landing in Cebu, flying on to Dumaguete, then to Manila. Five of the 331 passengers have already been accounted for and the Philippine National Police has been recruited to locate the other 270-plus passengers.
President Duterte has taken personal action on the coronavirus threat, ordering all local government officials, particuiarly barangay officials, to follow the protocols set by the DOH to ensure that all returning Filipinos from China undergo the required quarantine procedure.
In its assessment of the overall situation, WHO representative Abeyasinghe pointed out that the discovery of more cases is a positive development, as it shows more aggressive efforts, especially by the Chinese government, to discover virus cases for isolation and treatment.
This should help calm down fears the world over, especially in the Philippines which has so many people working and living in China today, including Hubei province and Wuhan city, where the coronavirus epidemic began.