With the increasing numbers of persons under investigation (PUIs) in the Philippines due to the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV), the Department of Health issued an advisory urging the public to avoid attending, participating in, and organizing events that draw a huge number of attendees. Likewise, the agency is also recommending the cancellation of such planned big events or mass gatherings until further notice.
“Totoo po ito, this is not fake news. We have issued that advisory,” DOH Undersecretary Gerardo V. Bayugo said in a “Laging Handa” press conference held in Malacañang on Monday, February 10, 2020. “Mass gatherings like dikit-dikit na po, may mga concert… Naglulundagan diyan, tapos siyempre pawis, laway, body fluids, etc, where you cannot avoid this kind of contact, those are the things that we are discouraging.”
However, Usec Bayugo added that scientific conferences or medical conventions may proceed as planned “as long as you observe strict precaution on contact with others. Then we’ll assume that people will be responsible of taking care of their health.”
With Valentine’s Day coming up, experts also advised against hand-holding and ‘beso-beso.’ “Make sure na bago kayo mag-date, ‘yung boyfriend ninyo o ‘yung girlfriend ninyo walang ubo’t sipon. It should be standard kasi kahit walang coronavirus kasi there are many viruses aside from corona,” said Dr. Ameilta Guzon in an interview with GMA’s 24 Oras Weekend.
DOH Epidemiology Bureau Chief Dr. Ferchito Avelino added, “As much as possible, ‘wag muna. Marami pa namang expression of love and affection sa kada isa.”
The DOH continues to remind the public on the importance of personal hygiene and cough etiquette. In one of its many advisories, the agency reminded individuals to perform regular and thorough handwashing with soap and water. They also advise to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% ethanol or isopropanol when soap and water are not available and to disinfect the hands immediately after a cough or sneeze.
In a press briefing held today, DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo announced that there are 262 PUIs admitted and isolated in various health facilities in the country while 48 have already been discharged. 109 PUIs have tested negative for 2019 nCoV while 202 cases are pending test results from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.
The first batch of Filipinos have also been repatriated from Hubei Province in China. 30 of them arrived in the Philippines on Sunday, February 9. They showed no signs and symptoms of the nCoV and are all considered “healthy,” but they will still be subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine at the Athletes’ Village in Capas, Tarlac.
Because of the soaring cases, the Department of Health is already discussing the possibility of local transmission. “We are seeing a rapid increase in transmission rate of the virus globally. In response, the DOH has strengthened its capacity in preparation for the possibility of local transmission,” said Usec Domingo in a statement. “All DOH hospitals are equipped to cater to the influx of patients and are following strict infection control protocols to control the virus.”
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