The government is “on top of the situation” after the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the country, a Palace official said on Thursday.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar assured the public that health, research, and law enforcement agencies are working to prevent the disease from spreading.
“With the first confirmed case of the 2019 novel coronavirus, we ask the public not to panic and to remain calm as the government, especially the Department of Health, is on top of the situation,” Andanar said in a statement.
Andanar urged the public to heed all health and preventive advisories issued by the DOH and observe proper hygiene to prevent the likelihood of contracting the virus.
Those who have observed symptoms associated with the 2019-nCoV were advised to immediately coordinate with local barangay health centers.
Andanar said the DOH is in constant coordination and collaboration with health and research authorities in Australia, Japan, and China on implementing necessary precautionary measures.
He said the Philippines, with help from Japan, is now capable of detecting and diagnosing 2019-nCoV-infected patients.
Containment and precautionary measures have been intensified to address this health concern, he added.
The government is yet to impose a ban on travelers coming from China despite the outbreak of the nCoV that has claimed 170 lives and infected 7,711 in China.
In a chance interview with reporters in Quezon City on Wednesday night, Duterte said he was not yet inclined on stopping Chinese tourists from entering the country.
Duterte said it would “not be fair” to limit visitor traffic to the country.
However, Andanar assured that the government is conducting necessary stringent customs, immigration, and quarantine measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
The overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were advised to coordinate with Chinese authorities for repatriation efforts, as needed.
A coronavirus hotline will also be created to assist Filipino workers in China for virus prevention and countermeasures.
A 38-year-old Chinese female is the first confirmed case of nCov in the country, according to the DOH.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said this was confirmed by laboratory results from the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia.
Duque said the patient arrived in the Philippines from Wuhan, China via Hong Kong last Jan. 21, 2020 and after seeking consultation for a mild cough, was admitted to one of the country’s government hospitals on January 25.
The patient is “currently asymptomatic with no fever and no signs and symptoms of any illness”, Duque said.
Currently, the DOH has recorded a total of 29 persons under investigation (PUIs) for possible infection. (Azer Parrocha/PNA)