Duterte appeals for calm, vigilance as Philippines faces COVID-19

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 13 2020 11:06 AM | Updated as of Feb 13 2020 02:16 PM

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MANILA — (UPDATE) President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday called on the public to be calm and vigilant, and observe proper hygiene to guard against COVID-19.

Duterte said people should wash their hands frequently, cover their mouth when sneezing and wear a face mask if they have coughs.

"I call on the people to remain vigilant, calm, responsible. I ask for your trust, cooperation and support as we face this challenge," he said in a video message shot in Malacanang.

"Maging malinis. Hugasan yung kamay frequently, yung paulit-ulit. Kung every handshake mo, kung humatsing ka, takpan mo bunganga mo at tingnan mo hindi ka makahawa sa ibang tao. Kung ikaw naman ay may ubo, mag mask ka na lang," the President said.

(Observe cleanliness. Wash your hands frequently, thoroughly, with every handshake. If you sneeze, cover your mouth to ensure you don't infect others. If you are coughing, wear a mask.)

It is "normal to feel anxious, concerned and even afraid," Duterte said, as he advised the public to monitor advisories from the government and the World Health Organization.

"'Wag makinig sa haka-haka. Sa gobyerno kayo nakatutok. Nandiyan sa gobyerno ang totoo," he said.

(Don't listen to speculation. Listen to the government. Truth is with the government.)

"Tayo ay magkaisa (Let us be united). Together as one nation, this challenge can be overcome."

The Philippines has so far had 3 confirmed cases, including 1 death, of the new coronavirus strain from China. All of whom are Chinese nationals from Wuhan, where the pathogen was discovered. So far, 408 people have been checked for infection, of which, 238 were confined.

China reported some 1,300 deaths due to COVID-19, which also forced the cancellation of numerous international conferences and the suspension of flights in and out of China.

On Sunday, the Philippines repatriated 32 Filipinos from Wuhan and placed them under quarantine. Duterte said Filipinos who remain in China will be brought home by the government if they so wish.

"To our kababayans who remain in lockdown areas in China, I assure you that the government is ready to bring you home if you want. Hindi namin kayo papabayaan (We will not neglect you) ," he said.