'Not late': Palace defends Monday meeting on novel coronavirus

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 03 2020 05:28 PM

A Palace official on Monday defended President Duterte from criticisms for calling an emergency meeting on the novel coronavirus days after the country reported its first case.

Speaking to reporters, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the government’s decision to call for an inter-agency meeting on Monday afternoon is a "very timely decision."

"No, it's not late. In fact very timely ang decision ng gobyerno. We follow also the directives and also the recommendations from the [World Health Organization], the [Department of Health]. Again I would like to reiterate na itong namatay na infected by the N-coronavirus is a person from China. Wala pang Filipino thank God na infected nito,” Andanar said.

"'Yung mga desisyon naman ng gobyerno ay very methodical at 'yung meeting mamaya ay nataon lang din na timely because nung weekend namatay 'yung pasyente na galing pang China and unfortunately the first death outside China,” he continued.

President Duterte is set to address the public on the novel coronavirus outbreak following the meeting, his second public statement on the disease since he told reporters that he is not keen on banning direct travel between China and the Philippines amid the outbreak. 

Exasperated netizens have criticized the President for his administration’s supposed lax response to the virus.

Amid public criticisms, the World Health Organization meanwhile is all praises for the Philippine government’s response to the outbreak.

“We commend the government of the Philippines in the measures they are implementing, and we continue to work with the Philippine government to increase preparedness and response capacities,” Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines, said.