WHO urges Filipinos: Stay calm, informed about novel coronavirus

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 05 2020 09:46 AM | Updated as of Feb 05 2020 10:00 AM

People line up to purchase face masks in Bambang, Manila on January 30, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A World Health Organization (WHO) official on Wednesday urged Filipinos to stay informed and calm as cases of the new coronavirus rise globally.

The public is urged to rely on credible sources of information such as the Department of Health (DOH) and the international body, according to WHO representative to the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe.

"You need to stay calm and your actions need to be dictated by evidence-based information," he told ANC's Early Edition.

"You see very interesting stories being circulated in social media and that is not very helpful. It’s not contributing to containing this outbreak."

Watch more in iWantTFC

The justice department, in a Senate inquiry Tuesday, said it would investigate and file charges against those who spread misinformation about the new strain of virus.

The WHO official, meantime, said only 2 percent of those infected succumb to the flu-like illness. Health officials earlier noted that most victims were either old or with underlying health problems.

The novel coronavirus, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed nearly 500 in China and infected 20,000 others.

"The vast majority of infections happen from people already having signs and symptoms of the disease," Abeyasinghe added.

The WHO official said maintaining proper hygiene by frequent handwashing and observing cough etiquette was most important for the public.

"The mere fact that you wear a face mask is not absolute guarantee you are not going to get this. it only prevents you from inhaling from inhaling the droplets," Abeyasinghe said.

"It's more important to wash your hands often, not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth excessively and ensure any meat you're consuming is properly cooked."

The Philippines is monitoring 105 patients suspected of carrying the strain, the DOH said, and has prohibited travel to and from China and its territories in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

Two Chinese nationals, who came from Wuhan, were the first confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the country. One of them, a 44-year-old man, died Saturday.