MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday told Filipinos to stop blaming the Chinese people for the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
Speaking to reporters after an emergency meeting with Cabinet officials and the World Health Organization (WHO) representative, Duterte said hating the Chinese would not be beneficial for the country especially since there are also a lot of Filipinos in China.
"And this kind of mentioning the Chinese and blaming them, it’s like a xenophobia. You hate anything that is Chinese. It is not good," he said.
"One is that we have many Filipinos in China. Second is even if there are none, you know, we are a community of nations. We cooperate. China has been kind to us. We can only also show the same favor to them, Duterte added.
For Duterte, the spread of the virus is no one's fault, as it could have started anywhere in the world.
"Stop this xenophobia thing about… Kasi ang gusto mong masabi nila na ‘yung --- ito ngayon they are blaming the Chinese na galing sa China. It can always… How would you call this? Incubate in some other places," he said.
"It happened in China on --- at least the first, ‘yun lang. But that is not the fault of anybody. Not of the Chinese, not of the Filipinos, not of anyone," Duterte added.
The Philippines has reported two confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease, involving two Chinese tourists who came from the Chinese city of Wuhan where the virus originated. One of the patients died on Saturday.
Health officials said Monday it has investigated 80 people so far for possible contraction of the 2019-nCoV ARD, although only two have yielded positive results. Thirty tested negative, while the results for the remaining 48 are still pending.
The WHO has declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak as a global health emergency. The international body said the new strain of virus is likely to have been sourced from an animal in a live animal market in China.