Gov't soothes public worries as Philippines confirms new coronavirus cases

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 06 2020 02:54 PM

A woman carries flowers while wearing a mask as a precaution against the 2019 Novel Coronavirus in Dangwa Market in Manila on February 7, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN 

MANILA- The Philippines is prepared to handle the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, Malacañang said Friday, as it sought to allay public worries following the confirmation of 2 new cases of the disease in the country.

The government has prepared protocols in response to the outbreak of the disease even before the new cases emerged, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters.

"There is no need for alarm and worry because from the very start we are ready," Panelo said. "All protocols are established and all [the Department of Health has to do is] to implement them."

Manila on Friday confirmed 2 more COVID-19 cases, including one potential case of local transmission.
 
The 2 new cases are a 48-year-old Filipino man who traveled to Japan, and a 62-year-old Filipino man who had coughs last Feb. 25.

The Philippines initially recorded 3 cases of the virus, all of whom were travelers from Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began. Among them, 2 have recovered and returned to their country, while 1 died.

COVER-UP?

Concerns on the government's monitoring of possible COVID-19 cases in the country were raised on social media as Manila only confirmed the new cases after Australia and Taiwan reported that 2 foreigners who had traveled to the Philippines tested positive for the virus.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III had said that the 2 foreigners likely caught the disease in another country.

Panelo meanwhile assured the public that the government is "definitely" transparent in reporting cases of the virus.

"Even the World Health Organization had credited this country for the containment measures that we have provided...The government is doing its best," Panelo said.

"We should all be transparent because it affects all of us," he said.

CORONAVIRUS FUND

In terms of preventing the spread of the virus, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said Manila has enough funds to handle the COVID-19 outbreak.

Duque earlier said President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the health department's request for a P2-billion fund to prevent the spread of the disease. 

The requested budget would come from the government's contingency fund, Avisado told ABS-CBN News.

Earlier this week, Duque said Manila was awaiting delivery of some P95 million worth of personal protective equipment for its health workers.

At present, Duque said the DOH is using some P530 million allotted for medical equipment by the budget department.