MANILA, Philippines – A day after the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the Philippines’ first case of novel coronavirus, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) called on all local government units (LGUs) to create their respective task forces to help contain the spread of the virus.
“All LGUs nationwide are advised to create their respective task forces to implement DOH protocols and guidelines and extend full cooperation to the DOH and other government agencies to meet the world health emergency,” DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said in a statement on Friday, January 31.
Malaya said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año was prompted to give the directive after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international emergency in relation to the novel coronavirus outbreak that has killed 212 people in China alone as of Friday.
The DILG said the task force will be led either by the governor or the mayor, who will ensure that local health personnel have the necessary equipment and protective gear.
The task force will also handle the referral and transport of constituents suspected of 2019-nCoV infection to a DOH-designated hospital.
Local chief executives, in coordination with the DOH, are also expected to train health workers on 2019-nCoV prevention, containment, and control. LGUs must also conduct information campaigns on the virus in their areas.
The DILG said that LGUs hosting international airports must coordinate with the Bureau of Immigration and airport authorities to ensure the implementation of quarantine procedures.
LGUs are expected to cooperate with the DOH in the latter’s contact-tracing of individuals who encountered a confirmed 2019-nCoV patient.
“The mayor should immediately inform the DOH should there be reasonable basis to place an individual under quarantine. The DOH needs the support of all LGUs in this important matter and local and police authorities should extend all possible assistance in this regard,” Malaya said.
On Friday, the WHO declared a public health emergency of international concern, citing “potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems.”
In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a ban on travelers from Wuhan City – the epicenter of the outbreak – and the rest of Hubei province, China, which would last until the 2019-nCoV threat was over.
Other countries have taken their own precautionary measures to stem the disease. Russia had shut its border with China and would stop issuing electronic visas to Chinese nationals. A number of airlines had either halted or reduced flights to China.
The public is advised to practice proper hygiene and coughing etiquette, including constant washing of hands and coughing into the crook of the elbow. (‘Novel coronavirus or 2019 nCoV: What we know so far) – Rappler.com