Philippines as 3rd World Country Fights New Virus that Crippled The 1st World Country

PNP’s CBRNE-trained personnel on standby for deployment vs. nCoV

FIGHT VS. CORONAVIRUS. Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives (CBRNE)-trained personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) from its health service unit are ready to assist other government agencies in the repatriation of Filipinos in China and other countries affected by the 2019 novel coronavirus. Some of the personnel who are ready for deployment don face masks and protective clothing during an event after the flag-raising ceremony at the PNP Headquarters in Camp Crame on Monday (Feb. 3, 2020). (PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)

Some 105 personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) are ready to assist other government agencies in the repatriation of Filipinos from China and other countries due to the 2019 novel coronavirus virus spread.

PNP chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa on Monday said their personnel are ready for deployment once called upon by the Department of Health to help in controlling the spread of the deadly virus.

“The deployment of PNP personnel is primarily bent on DOH kasi sila ‘yung overall in-charge nito (because they are overall in-charge). We do not move on our own because they are the authority,” Gamboa said.

The chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives (CBRNE)-trained personnel belong to the SAF (Special Action Force), Health Service, Crime Lab and EOD-K9 units.

The doctors from the PNP Health Service would help in the mandatory quarantine procedures of returning Filipinos from countries affected by nCoV, Gamboa said.

“The PNP will help but we’re just presenting na meron kaming ganitong pwersa (this kind of force or unit) whom they can use,” Gamboa said.

Gamboa also directed regional police units to make available individual face masks for all police personnel and assure the availability of hand sanitizers in offices and facilities.

Gamboa said the PNP is also studying the possibility of implementing a temporary lockdown on all its training facilities including the Philippine National Police Academy and the National Training Police Institute to ensure the safety and protection of cadets and trainees.

“As I have said, we are considering kasi nga kailangan talagang ng assessment ng experts (we need the assessment from the experts). You just do not execute something kasi (because) we also have to balance. It might create panic or we might be overreacting so dapat evidence-based kumbaga,” Gamboa said.


PNP ordered to locate persons who could be infected by novel coronavirus

Philippine National Police chief Police General Archie Francisco Gamboa has ordered all police regional offices to coordinate with regional health offices to locate persons who could be infected by the novel coronavirus.

This developed as a Chinese child from Wuhan province tested positive for a coronavirus in Cebu earlier this week. However, the patient has yet to test positive for the new coronavirus that has reportedly killed over 400 in China.

"All regional directors of police regional offices have been ordered to coordinate with their respective counterpart regional health offices to help mitigate the possible effects and assist in case order is given to locate other persons identified by DOH (Department of Health) who possibly manifest flu-like symptoms and fit the description of the new virus," PNP spokesman Police Brigadier General Bernard Banac said in a statement.

Banac said Gamboa also ordered the PNP Health Service to coordinate with the DOH as regards the probe on the case of the five-year-old Chinese boy who arrived in Cebu from Wuhan, China.

The boy exhibited flu-like symptoms, according to the DOH. The results of the test conducted to determine the specific strain of coronavirus that affected the boy is yet to be released.


PNP ready to assist nCov patients’ transfer to quarantine areas

To help prevent the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Friday it is ready to assist the transfer of patients suspected of having the novel coronavirus to quarantine areas in the country.

PNP Chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa, said while still waiting for the concrete action plans of the government in addressing the possible health hazards posed by the new coronavirus strain from China, the PNP could offer its equipment to help in transporting nCov-suspected patients to quarantine areas.

Gamboa assured that the PNP has enough equipment and personnel to assist in the government’s measures of preventing the spread of nCov, adding that they still have N95 face masks that can be distributed.


DOH says it's ready in case new coronavirus reaches PH

The Department of Health (DOH) assured the public that systems are in place in case the new coronavirus that has spread in China reaches the Philippines.

DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo told reporters on Thursday, January 23, that the health department is “fully prepared” and that protocols are in place if ever cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV are reported in the country.

“It’s just a matter of activating the infrastructure we have ready,” Domingo said. (READ: ‘Novel coronavirus’ or 2019 nCoV: What we know so far)

The health department is currently probing the case of a 5-year-old Chinese boy in Cebu City who tested positive for what the DOH called “non-specific pancoronavirus.” This means that he tested negative for SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, but may have been infected by any of the 4 mild coronaviruses known to infect humans or the new coronavirus that emerged in the city of Wuhan in China in December 2019.

The DOH is waiting for test results from an Australian laboratory to determine whether the boy indeed has 2019-nCoV. If he tests negative, he may be discharged from the hospital in Cebu, where he has been under observation since January 12.

“The World Health Organization’s (WHO) position right now is that the virus is really going to spread. In fact, it has already gone to several countries; the international spread is no longer theoretical. ” Domingo said.

If a case is confirmed and if the WHO declares the new virus an international public health emergency, Domingo said the DOH will proceed with guidelines it followed during the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) outbreaks in 2003 and 2014, respectively, but “with modifications” attentive to the new virus.


‘Treat it as a disaster’: Solon wants NDRRMC action in PH campaign vs. coronavirus

A lawmaker on Tuesday proposed a wider and disaster-based approach that would help refine the Philippines’ campaign against the novel coronavirus.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said the government should treat the illness’ outbreak as a “disaster”, adding that concerned agencies can tap the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) as well as local government units to intensify the drive against the virus.

“Use the NDRRMC. Basically kasi it's a whole of government approach, it's a whole of society approach— it's not just DOH (Department of Health),” Salceda said in an interview with The Source.

Kasi noong nagkaroon ng MERS CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome-coronavirus) at tsaka noong SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome), I was governor. Ang approach namin ay use the PDRRMC methodology - as if it was a disaster. And therefore we have to institute precautionary measures,” he added.

[Translation: When the MERS CoV and SARS surfaced, I was governor (of Albay). Our approach was to use the PDRRMC methodology - as if it was a disaster. And therefore we have to institute precautionary measures.]

Salceda said the approach does not aim to instill panic among Filipinos, but will rather ensure a more “systematic, orderly, and science-based” campaign against the virus, which has left over 100 people in China dead in its wake.

He noted an LGU-centralized campaign can help communities better understand— and guard themselves from— the virus.

“IEC (Information Education Communication) dapat. Lalong lalo sa local government. Dapat hindi lang DOH ang talking head, dapat naka-cascade po 'yan sa local. Kasi they are responsible officers for their community,” Salceda said.

[Translation: Information, Education, Communication—especially in the local government. DOH shouldn’t be the only one talking, it should also be cascaded to the local. Because they are responsible officers for their community.]

The outbreak of the coronavirus— which has spread to other regions including the United States and Europe—has prompted several international governments and airports to impose stricter security and monitoring measures.

The Philippines remains free of the coronavirus, with no confirmed cases listed, the Health Department stressed Monday. However, authorities said they are monitoring 14 people who showed symptoms of possible infection.

Some patients tagged “under investigation” have already tested negative for the coronavirus, health officials clarified.


Duterte widens travel ban on mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau

President Rodrigo Duterte has expanded the coverage of the temporary travel ban amid the threat of the 2019 novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV to now include foreign travellers to and from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

The wider travel ban, announced Sunday initially by Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, came just two days after the President ordered to temporarily ban the entry of visitors from China's Hubei province where Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, is located.

Go said Duterte accepted the recommendation of the Department of Health (DOH) along with the members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Subsequently on Sunday morning, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea announced in a statement that the temporary ban now covers the following:

- The entry of any person, regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizens and foreigners holding permanent resident visas issued by the Philippine government, directly coming from China and its special administrative regions (SARs) Hong Kong and Macau

- The entry of any person, regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizens and holders of permanent resident visa issued by the Philippine government, who within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, has been to China and its SARs

- Temporary ban on Filipinos from travelling to China and its SARs

Airport authorities said Sunday afternoon that foreigners who have traveled from China will be sent back to Hong Kong if they arrive before Monday midnight. Authorities, however, are leaving airline companies to deal with this.

"It all depends to the airlines. I think kung may available flight, same flight na ginamit nila nung pumunta sila dito, 'yun din ang gagamitin [para ibalik sila sa Hong Kong,]" Airline Operators Council chairman Allan Nepomuceno said.

[Translation: I think if there is an available flight, the same flight that sent them here would be used to send them back to Hong Kong.]

Flights to and from China and its SARs to the Philippines will continue, airport authorities said, but only Filipinos would be allowed to land in the country. Filipinos, meanwhile, will be barred from boarding planes heading to China and its SARs.

Cebu Pacific and AirAsia have cancelled flights between Manila and mainland China.

Cebu Pacific is cancelling flights between the country and Hong Kong and Macau from February 2 until February 29. All other flights to and from mainland China (Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Shenzen) remain cancelled until March 29, 2020.

AirAsia, meanwhile, is cancelling all flights between mainland China and its SARs, and the Philippines "until further notice." These include flights between Manila, Kalibo, and Cebu, and Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macau.

Philippine Airlines also issued an advisory saying it was cancelling all flights between Manila and Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xiamen, Quanzhou, and Macau until February 29.

The infectious diseases task force also recommended the establishment of a repatriation and quarantine facility and a mandatory 14-day quarantine for Filipinos and permanent resident visa holders coming from any place in China and its SARs.

Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal, however, said Filipinos coming back to the country from China and its SARs would only have to be quarantined in their homes, where they would keep in touch with an epidemiologist who would check in with them through calls twice a day.

"Taking into consideration the concerns raised by key government officials and health experts, the President made an informed decision and has agreed to adopt this recommendation and implement it immediately as additional precautionary measure to protect Filipinos and everyone in the Philippines," said Go, who also echoed the proposal.

The senator clarified that they are not "singling out" Chinese nationals amid this recommendation.

"I wish to emphasize that we are not singling out Chinese nationals. This order covers all travelers from China to the Philippines, regardless of nationality. We emphatize with China given what they are going through but we are doing this to protect the country and its people," Go said.

Over the past week, some groups called on the public to refrain from being discriminatory, especially against the Chinese nationals following news of the virus.


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