Vigilance, strict protocols keeping PH safe from local transmission of coronavirus


Posted at Feb 29 2020 04:30 PM | Updated as of Feb 29 2020 05:11 PM

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MANILA - The country's top health official on Saturday credited the government's prompt response in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak for preventing local transmission and keeping the number of cases down. 

"Sa awa ng Diyos napapanatili nating walang local transmission. In fact, 31 na lang 'yung ating patients under investigation at mga 600 ay mga na-discharge na dahil negative naman sila. Panatilihin natin na ganun kaya ang pagmamatyag, pagbabantay mahigpit talaga," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

(By God's grace we have maintained no local transmission. In fact, we only have 31 patients under investigation and some 600 have been discharged because they tested negative. We want to keep it that way that's why we're on the lookout, on tight watch.)

The Philippines has confirmed 3 cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country, all Chinese citizens who had come from Wuhan City in China, the epicenter of the outbreak. One of them died. 

In an interview on DZMM, Duque also said that the travel ban imposed by the Philippines on China is helping maintain the current COVID-19 status of the country.

"Sabi nga ng WHO (World Health Organization) na ang Pilipinas is only one of the 9 countries na naging successful so far ang containment measures, na hindi tayo nagkakaroon ng positive case for 3 weeks," he said.

(The WHO said the Philippines is only one of about 9 countries with successful containment measures, we have not had a positive case in 3 weeks.)

Duque said the DOH decision tool helps authorities in assessing whether a person should be under the category of a patient under investigation or person under monitoring.

Those who came from Wuhan, the virus origin, before the lockdown who were exhibiting symptoms were classified as patients under investigation, he said. 

Those who had no travel history to Wuhan but has symptoms are placed under monitoring. 

During a meeting of the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office, Duque said it was pointed out that the reason for the spread of the virus was that China waited 15 days before testing people already showing COVID-19 symptoms.

"Masyadong matagal. Hindi kagaya ngayon doon sa quarantine facility natin doon sa NCC (New Clark City) kapag may ubo pa lang pinapadala natin sa ospital...naaagapan natin," he said.

(That was too long... unlike now in our quarantine facility at the New Clark City, anyone who has a cough is sent to the hospital.)

He also added that it is hard to say that the warmer weather in the Philippines also played a part in keeping the virus at bay.

Duque cited Singapore, which already has local transmission, and Malaysia, Philippine neighbors where the weather is warm. 

"Siguro hindi ganun kaagresibo yung virus sa maiinit na lugar pero hindi naman nangangahulugan na hindi siya tatama," he explained.

(Perhaps the virus is not that aggressive in warmer places but it doesn't mean it won't affect that area.)

As of Feb. 28, the WHO reported that there were 83,652 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally, with 67 deaths.

In China, where the outbreak began, there were 78,961 confirmed cases and 2,791 deaths.