MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday called on government to adopt work-from-home arrangements as cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the Philippines continued to rise.
"Sinabi na ng World Health Organization: May mga katangian ng isang pandemic ang pandaigdigang sitwasyon. Ibig sabihin, kumalat na ang virus sa iba’t ibang bansa," she said in a video that aired on her official Facebook page.
(The World Health Organization has characterized the situation as a global pandemic. This means the virus has spread in different countries.)
"Sa pagkakataong ito, kailangan kong idiin: Panahon nang ipatupad ang areglong work-from-home. Huwag na nating ipilit pumasok pa sa opisina ang ating mga empleyado, maliban na lang ang mga nakatutok sa pagpapaabot ng kaukulang serbisyo na maaaring umampat sa pagkalat ng virus," she added.
(At this point, I have to emphasize: It's time to implement the work-from-home arrangement. Let us not force workers to go to offices, except for those in the front-lines of response to the outbreak.)
If business operations must continue, Robredo suggests skeletal staffing to minimize person-to-person contact.
To stop the spread of the deadly virus, which has so far claimed nearly 4,300 lives worldwide, "social distancing" or avoiding public places and staying several feet away from other people must be practiced.
In her public address, the Vice President also urged the government to fast-track the procurement of testing kits that would help diagnose COVID-19 cases.
Front-line agencies must also offer aid to those affected by the pandemic and implement preventive measures in case the infection worsens, she said.
Robredo also called for calm and cautioned against panic-buying and hoarding amid contagion fears. Those exhibiting flu-like symptoms must observe self-quarantine while those exposed to possible carriers of the strain must seek medical care.
PROTECT THE VULNERABLE
As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, the Vice President stressed that the poor would be the most vulnerable against COVID-19.
"Alam po natin: Marami sa ating mga kababayan ang walang sapat na salapi para magpatingin sa mga pribadong ospital. Sa harap nito, dapat na ring tukuyin, italaga, at ipaalam sa publiko ang mga pampublikong ospital na kakayaning tumanggap ng mga may malalang sintomas," she said.
(We know that many of our fellow Filipinos don't have the financial resources to go to private hospitals. The government must identify and inform the public on what hospitals are allowed to accept patients suffering from symptoms.)
After reports swirled that a planned lockdown is being proposed in Metro Manila, Robredo believed it would only be effective if there is enough provision in communities, especially for the poor.
The Vice President also said she believed the Philippines, which is prone to calamities and crises, would be able to overcome.
"Mas malakas pa rin ang Pilipino sa COVID-19; kayang daigin ng ating pagkakaisa ang suliraning ito. Pilipino tayo, at sama-sama nating malalagpasan ito," she said.
(The Filipino people are stronger than COVID-19. We can overcome this if we stand together as one. We are Filipinos and we will surpass this together.)
As of Thursday, the Philippines has recorded 52 cases of COVID-19, which include 2 deaths.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global pandemic as the disease has infected more than 118,000 and killed nearly 4,300 in 114 countries and territories.