AFP commits to help gov’t in fight vs. COVID-19

Published March 11, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Martin Sadongdong 

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) declared on Wednesday its commitment to help the government in its fight to contain the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.

General Filemon Santos Jr., AFP Chief, said the military takes President Duterte’s order of placing the entire Philippines under a State of Public Health Emergency “very seriously and proactively.”

“Even before such issuance by the President, I have directed the AFP Health Services Command to institute preventive measures to ensure that military camps have the necessary and stringent safeguards from COVID-19 [infection],” Santos said.

President Duterte signed Proclamation No. 922 placing the entire country under a State of Public Health Emergency after the Department of Health (DOH) raised its COVID-19 alert system to Code Red Sub-Level 1. This, after the Health department confirmed the first ever case of a local transmission when the wife of the fifth COVID-19 positive patient — a 62-year-old Filipino from Cainta, Rizal — contracted the disease.

Part of the military’s preventive measures include body temperature checking before entering key military camps, establishment of a testing center at the AFP Medical Center or V. Luna General Hospital in Quezon City, and a moratorium on sending its personnel to foreign travels except when necessary, among others.

The AFP Chief also encouraged all military personnel and civilian human resource to practice personal hygiene diligently to mitigate the risks of being infected by the disease.

“We are preparing for the possibility that AFP facilities and personnel may be tapped to provide assistance in the ‘whole of government’ approach in combating COVID-19 that has raised alarms worldwide,” he noted.

Earlier, the Philippine Army said it can provide manpower, mobility, security, and possibly facilities to help the Inter-Agency Task Force on Managing Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) combat the deadly respiratory disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Tuesday that there were already 113,702 confirmed cases around the world, including 4,012 deaths. Nearly 81,000 cases were reported in China where the virus originated in the capital city of Wuhan in Hubei province.

In the Philippines, there have been 33 confirmed COVID-19 cases so far, according to the Department of Health.

The number of patients is expected to rise as the country grapples to implement measures to prevent the spread of the disease much like the rest of the world. This includes the possibility of a lockdown of the entire Metro Manila, according to Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano.

As to the possible lockdown of Metro Manila, the military expressed readiness to enforce the necessary measures should they be tapped by concerned government agencies to secure key entry and exit points, along with the Philippine National Police.

The lockdown may be enforced if the DOH raises its COVID-19 Alert System to Code Red Sub-Level 2, which means that there is a continuous transmission and unlinked clusters of cases.