US commits P139 million aid to Philippines for COVID-19 response

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 17 2020 02:24 PM

Researchers work in a laboratory at the Philippine Genome Center on March 12, 2020. The center is part of the development of a local test kit for COVID-19 led by the UP-National Institutes of Health in efforts to improve early detection of the virus, expedite the mass production of the kit, and ensure its availability to the public at lower costs. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News


MANILA - While itself dealing with the contagion, the United States has committed $2.7 million or P139 million in aid to support the Philippines’ response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

In a statement Tuesday, the US Embassy in Manila said the US government, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), will “collaborate with Philippine government counterparts to establish and implement internationally-recognized infectious disease threat prevention and response strategies, and enhance infection control.”

The aid would strengthen systems for specimen transport and enhance the capacity of Philippine laboratories “to accurately and rapidly detect cases.”

“The assistance also will help protect health workers and patients by ensuring that hygiene products, masks, waste management supplies, and other necessary commodities are available, delivered, and managed appropriately,” the embassy said in a statement.

The embassy said the support will be “rapidly implemented through USAID's on-the-ground partners” long engaged with the Philippines’ Department of Health.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night placed Luzon, one of the country’s three main island groups, under a month-long quarantine to stop the spread of the virus.

Under the lockdown, work and school are suspended, mass transport was halted, businesses were shuttered except those providing basic services, and people were told to stay home.

Government has laid out a P27.1-billion spending plan for the outbreak response, including the acquisition of more test kits and social protection programs for vulnerable workers and business owners.

As of March 16, the Philippines has confirmed 142 patients of the acute respiratory disease. Of this number, 12 have died while 2 have recovered. The rest remain confined in hospitals.