By Hanah Tabios
An official of the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday that there is no evidence yet proving the risk of buffet food stations in the transfer of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
This, after reports from international news outfits came out, citing that at least three Asian businessmen contracted the virus while they were at a business conference in Singapore suspecting their buffet meals as the mode of virus transmission.
It was also the same reason being eyed in the case of the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess in Japan’s port of Yokohama where thousands of passengers have been quarantined amid the coronavirus limbo.
“Kami po ay nakikipag-ugnayan sa lahat ng sektor sa ngayon, financial sector, even the Food and Beverage Bureau (FMB). We just had our meeting with the hotel owners, together with the Department of Tourism. So, ang gusto lang naming iparating sa inyong lahat, kung ano man po ang binibigay namin sa inyong advisory, para sa pag iwas, these are general precautions, hindi po natin kailangang tukuyin na pag ikaw ay nagbuffet, pag ikaw ay nagshabu-shabu, ikaw ay makakakuha ng sakit,” DOH Assistant Secretary Dr. Maria Rosario Vegeire said in Monday’s press briefing.
Vegeire stressed that the principal mode of transmission for the COVID-19 is still thought to be respiratory droplets as previously announced by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Pag sinabi nating mga droplet, ‘yan yung mga short distance lang ang tinatravel, halimbawa nagsalita ka o ikaw ay dumura 3 feet po yung virus maaari mong maipasa. ‘Yan po yung droplet infection pero ayoko pong mag zero in na kapag nag buffet ka or kapag ikaw ay nagshabu-shabu kasi tanggalin po natin ang impormasyon na ito sa utak natin because we are going to scare people away,” she added.
The health official also suggested to handle the issue carefully as this could potential incur losses to the country’s food industry.
In fact, the country’s economic managers said they are now preparing measures to counteract the economic impact of COVID-19 outbreak especially that the Philippines is among the most vulnerable countries hit by the ongoing global health emergency.
Just in China where the virus originated, several fast-food giants already ordered temporary closures including McDonald’s, KFC, Starbucks, and Dairy Queen as the virus continues to spread.