A CONGRESSMAN yesterday said government agencies concerned should have not allowed flights from Wuhan, China to land in the country despite the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Chinese city.
While there has been no confirmed 2019 novel coronavirus cases in the Philippines according to the World Health Organization (WHO), Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun said authorities must be able to impose the strictest protocols amid the threat of the virus, which had claimed the lives of at least 80 people in China and infected others in many countries.
“Why were we still allowing flights from Wuhan to land in the Philippines in the first place? Why did we have to wait for their announcement of lockdown before deciding to prohibit entry of flights coming from a place already confirmed to be the epicenter of the outbreak of a fatal virus that has turned epidemic?” Fortun asked.
“And now, we have to send at least 500 travelers back? And that is not even a decision reached by our authorities, but the airlines?,” Fortun added.
House senior Deputy Minority Leader and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, a former secretary of the Department of Health (DoH), urged the public to practice proper hygiene.
“The numbers aren’t final as experts are still studying the Wuhan coronavirus but it is safe to say that we have been through the worse. Hindi nakukuha ang virus na ito sa hangin, unlike measles,” said Garin.
“Ang kailangan nating lahat ay proper hygiene, tama at madalas na paghuhugas ng kamay at proper disposal of wastes like tissue paper lalo na kung naubuhan or siningahan ito. Kung uubo o babahing, huwag gamitin ang kamay pangtakip. Gumamit ng tissue, o bumahing sa may braso, bandang loob ng siko. Seek early consultation kung may mga sintomas nang naoobserbahan lalo na kung may kasamang panghihina ng katawan. Proper rest and diet will boost our resistance. For those who are immunocompromised (the very young and the very old and those with concurrent illnesses), please avoid crowded areas,” said Garin. “Huwag mag-panic ngunit alamin kung kailan dapat magpakonsulta at ano ang dapat gawin.”
Barely hours before a lockdown was imposed in Wuhan, China last week, plane carrying 135 passengers from Wuhan landed in Kalibo, Aklan.
According to Fortun, “the Chinese government itself has restricted travels not only to and from Wuhan but other cities and provinces as well.”
“When circumstances already warrant, we need not wait for another announcement of lockdown before considering bans of flights from these places,” he added.
Fortun added that the Philippine government should “strictly implement inviolable protocols that protect public health and safety” as many visitors from China and other East Asian countries have come to the Philippines for tourism or work.
“The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the various airport agencies, and the DoH must not leave anything to chance. Leave no stone unturned, lest we regret,” he said.