Gov't seeks political ceasefire as PH seeks to contain China virus spread

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 03 2020 05:49 PM

Tourists wear face masks as they take a tour inside Intramuros in Manila on January 31, 2020 Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Malacañang on Monday appealed for a halt on politicking as the Philippines ramped up efforts to prevent the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar made the request a day after Manila confirmed its first coronavirus-related death, saying there are government critics who supposedly want to "hijack" the public health crisis and turn it into a political issue.

"Let us set aside our individual differences as we ask a moratorium to people who want to hijack this situation and reduce it to mere politicking because lives are at stake," he said during a Palace press briefing.

Local health officials on Sunday confirmed the death of a 44-year old Chinese man from Wuhan, the global epicenter of the outbreak, in the first recorded death related to the virus outside of China.

The coronavirus health crisis, according to Andanar, should also not be used as an excuse to discriminate as he warned against the spread of false information.

"In times like these, it is easy to mislead our fellow Filipinos so we urge the public to stop spreading rumors and goading fears as well as ending the stigma against a specific nationality or race," he said.

"There is no room for discrimination and there should be none at all."

The Philippines on Sunday imposed a temporary travel ban to China and its special administrative regions--Hong Kong, and Macau, after Manila confirmed its first coronavirus-related death.

The ban covers all foreigners arriving from the said areas including those with travel records within the last 14 days. Passengers who will transit through China, Hong Kong, and Macau are also covered by the travel ban.

Filipino citizens and those who hold a permanent resident visa issued by the Philippine government, however, are permitted to enter the country but are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine.