By SENATOR FRANCIS N. TOLENTINO
Spreading like wildfire in China and elsewhere in the world, the 2019 novel corona virus continues to pose imminent danger to global health. Most recent data show that there are already 37,558 confirmed NCOV cases around the world, 37,251 of which were recorded in China. While there may have been only three confirmed cases here in the Philippines, the government cannot underestimate the potential threat that this virus poses to Filipino health and safety. Just like any disaster, of which the probability of occurrence remains high, a proactive approach to this corona virus scare is what I continue to plead for.
For any life-threatening disease, health experts have always placed early detection at the top of key approaches to outbreak prevention. That is why I have repeatedly urged concerned national agencies, foremost of which is the Department of Health, to utilize relevant line items in their budget to purchase NCOV test kits. Being able to determine corona virus infection at the earliest stage possible reduces the possibility of transmission and hence containment of the virus.
While I may not be a health expert, it is public knowledge that viruses are capable of mutation and hence possible resistance to vaccines and medication as a result. Cure has yet to be developed for the 2019 Novel Corona virus, which I think makes it all the more dangerous. Let me reiterate my earlier proposal for a proactive approach on the issue, taking into consideration the vulnerability of countries whose health system might not be as adequate, as ready, and as developed compared to our global counterparts, should an unfortunate NCOV outbreak happens. I do not mean to belittle the capability of DOH to address this pressing health concern. All I am saying is that NCOV is rapidly spreading, that we are highly vulnerable, and that our prevention mechanisms and strategies should be in place and functional. Locally developed NCOV test kits from the University of the Philippines National Institute on Health (UP-NIH) may prove helpful in our attempt to proactively approach this impending health emergency, in addition, of course, to the standard test kits available for purchase.
Experts claim that NCOV fatality rate remains low at the moment but continuing studies relative to the characteristics of the virus reveal that its manifestations are varied and are not limited to the common cough, fever, cold or flu. More than intensive public awareness campaign, I believe that early detection is absolutely crucial in averting NCOV and ensuring the health of Filipninos.