DOH won’t ‘let guard down’ even as admitted PUIs for coronavirus down to 43

Sofia Tomacruz
Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire says officials remain prepared, as the World Health Organization raised its global risk assessment for the novel coronavirus to the maximum level

PROTECTION. Visitors of Binondo, Manila's Chinatown, wear masks amid fears over the novel coronavirus. File photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) gave assurances that it remains vigilant and ready to respond to the novel coronavirus even if officials noted a decrease in the number of patients under investigation.

Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters that as of Monday morning, March 2, there have been 638 cases monitored in the Philippines, but only 43 remain admitted while the 592 others have already been discharged.

“This may be attributed to our strengthened surveillance, early travel restrictions, and enhanced laboratory process. But this is not enough reason to let our guard down,” Vergeire said in a press briefing in Malacañang on Monday.

Vergeire said the DOH is continuously assessing the situation and working to improve health surveillance protocols based on evidence and latest developments related to the coronavirus.

She added that the DOH has geared up for the possibility of local transmission.

Aside from this, Vergeire said the DOH is adopting contingency plans as the World Health Organization raised its risk assessment for the virus to its maximum level of “very high” worldwide.

Meanwhile, of the 458 individuals quarantined at New Clark City in Tarlac, 14 have been admitted to health facilities. Of this number, 10 have tested negative for the coronavirus, while health officials are waiting for the results of 4 individuals.

The Philippines earlier recorded 3 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, all Chinese tourists, including the first death outside of China. The other two already recovered and have returned to China.

As for Filipinos abroad, the DOH has recorded 86 Filipinos confirmed to have the coronavirus. This includes 80 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan, 2 in Hong Kong, 2 in Singapore, and 2 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Of the 80 Filipinos in Japan, 48 remain admitted in hospitals while 32 have been discharged. A Filipino remains admitted in both Hong Kong and Singapore. In the UAE, both Filipinos are still in the hospital.

Vergeire reminded the public to always wash their hands and observe proper cough etiquette to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the Philippines.

As of Monday morning, the virus has killed more than 3,000 people, with 2,912 of them in China. More than 88,000 people have been infected by the virus, which has spread to over 60 countries. –

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at