The ANC Brief: Weird virus science


Posted at Feb 05 2020 04:14 AM

Did the Senate hearing on the country’s response to the nCoV help improve our protocols on outbreaks or was it more of grandstanding by lawmakers? Here are the stories making the headlines on ANC today:

Conspiracy theories
Tuesday’s Senate hearing on the country’s response to the novel coronavirus was a weird mixture of some science and some conspiracy theories. Sen. Bong Go started the proceedings with a call for the health department to “tone down” its reports on the nCoV. Senate President Tito Sotto showed what looks like a conspiracy theory video that claims without presenting proof that the nCoV virus is a bioweapon against China. Foreign Affairs Sec. Teddy Locsin Jr. said it was the “craziest video” he has ever seen. But Locsin also tagged the US in the supposed plot to use the virus against China. If that sounds like our officials are going bonkers over the virus, let’s check out today's 9:30 a.m. hearing at the House of Representatives on the same subject. Meanwhile, cases of nCoV in the Philippines rose to more than 100 as the DOH said it was monitoring a possible third case of infection.

Contact tracing
Still on the Senate hearing on the nCoV, Health Sec. Francisco Duque defended government’s response to the spread of the virus. But he admitted that only 17 percent of the passengers in the same flight with infected Chinese tourists have been tracked down. Duque said their contract tracing of the passengers is being hampered by airlines who are invoking confidentiality on passenger records. PAL and Cebu Pacific denied Duque’s statement.

Reported riff
Former Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary Eliseo Rio clarified that his resignation was not due to a supposed riff with DICT Sec. Gringo Honasan. Reports had said Rio left his post after the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged cash advances worth P300 million for Honasan. Rio said he had no first-hand info on the advances and had only expressed an opinion on the matter. The DICT is planning to hold a press conference today presumably to answer the allegations of the advances.

Retaining targets
The government’s economic managers will present inflation numbers for the first month of 2020. The Department of Finance said it was retaining the country’s GDP target for 2020 of between 6-8 percent. This despite the effects of the Taal Volcano eruption and the nCoV virus. 

Silver screen
Seven of the country’s foremost theaters during the early 20th century are the subjects of an exhibition this week by architect Gerard Lico. Isidra Reyes writes for ANCX about the life they lived and the dreams they inspired.