MANILA (UPDATE) - A team of medical experts from China arrived Sunday in the Philippines to help in the country's efforts to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said.
China sent 10 medical experts and 2 officials to "share technical advice on the prevention and control" of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
"The Chinese experts arrived with invaluable firsthand experiences to share on fighting and containing COVID-19. Thank you China,” Locsin said in a a tweet.
The medical team, the first among 3 to be sent by China to Southeast Asian countries, have "front line experience in Hubei province" where the virus originated, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said.
"I hope the arrival of this team will help the Philippines to improve its ability of epidemic prevention and control as well as diagnosis and treatment, so as to boost the confidence of the public in overcoming the COVID-19," Ambassador Huang Xilian said at the turnover ceremony.
"Virus respects no borders. During the time of crisis, the Chinese government and people feel keenly for the health and safety of the Filipino people. We will always stand together with the Philippine government and people to cope with the challenges and overcome the epidemic."
The Chinese government also donated another batch of medical supplies to the Philippines, including 300,000 surgical masks, 30,000 medical N95 masks, 5,000 medical protective suits, 5,000 medical face shields, and 30 non-invasive ventilators, it added.
In a statement, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar expressed the government's gratitude for China's help.
"Amidst the increasing threat that the contagion poses to our various communities and its dire effects to the country in general, the help given by China, and that of other countries, has strongly shown that the Philippines is not alone in facing this virus and in working to flatten the curve of its spread, it has the health and the support of the global community," Andanar said.
Manila sought the help of Beijing on the pandemic after the economic giant saw a slowdown in its virus cases, the Department of Health earlier said.
China earlier sent protective gear and COVID-19 testing kits to the Philippines.
As of Sunday, the Philippines has recorded 152 deaths out of 3,246 cases of COVID-19. Sixty-four patients have so far recovered.
--With reports from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News