Palace: No room for complacency in fight against COVID-19

By Genalyn Kabiling 

There is no room for complacency in health precautions even as the Philippines has been cited as one of the countries that has no new case of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19)), Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar (ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN) Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the government would remain on guard to prevent and contain the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

"Let me begin by commending everyone for doing a good job. The World Health Organization recently cited the Philippine as one of the countries that had not reported a new case of coronavirus for more than two weeks now," he said during a Palace press briefing.

"This is no time to celebrate however as there is much work that needs to be done," he added.

According to Andanar, the nation must remain vigilant and sustain measures against the coronavirus amid reports of local transmission of disease in other countries.

"Some parts of the globe, local transmission has been prevalent. Thus, we cannot let our guards down and lull ourselves into complacency. We have to remain vigilant, prepared and united in combating his global health emergency," he said.

"We have to be laging handa, always prepared from knowing the alert levels to safety precautions and preventive measures  plus government interventions," he added.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently announced that the spread of the coronavirus could be contained, citing the Philippines and eight other counties that have not reported a coronavirus case for more than weeks. The countries include Belgium, Cambodia, Finland, Nepal, Russia, Sri Lanka and Sweden.

WHO however recently raised the global COVID-19 risk to its highest level as cases continued to surge outside China. The viral outbreak, which started in China, has reportedly infected more than 86,000 globally and left more than 2,900 dead globally.

The Philippines earlier recorded three confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including one fatality.

As of March 2, a total of 43 patients under investigation are admitted in hospitals while 592 have been discharged for testing negative for the virus.

Apart from good public health policy and preparedness, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Eduardo Meñez said the government's transparency in recording "the latest and most accurate information" to the public contributed to the country's good performance.

"The government also accepts all comments and tries to process reports to discuss and arrive at informed and data-driven policy decisions ensure public health and maintain safety and security of all people in the Philippines and of course Filipinos abroad,” he said in the same press conference.

There is no local transmission yet in the country but the government has raised its preparedness efforts to deal with such eventuality. The government’s precautions included strict screening and quarantine procedures, travel restrictions to some coronavirus-hit places, and advocacy for self-protection measures.

In case of a local community spread, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles recently said the government may put a certain place on lockdown to contain the virus outbreak. Several potential quarantine sites in Visayas and Mindanao  have also been identified, he added.

According to Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, the inter-agency task forces has also readied a contingency plan in the event of local transmission of the new coronavirus.

"We will take each issue one at a time. We have a contingency plan. We are making ourselves prepared to eventually of a local transmission. The suspension of classes, avoiding public transport and public gathering will depend on the situation,” she said at the same Palace press conference.#