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Vico Sotto: Stay calm, don’t resort to panic buying

JC Gotinga
Vico Sotto: Stay calm, don’t resort to panic buying
(UPDATED) The Pasig mayor says the local government is 'very prepared' to respond to the novel coronavirus outbreak, as he leads efforts to disinfect schools and other public places

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto called for calm and cautioned against panic buying, as his local government responds to the threat of the novel coronavirus.

Sotto on Wednesday, March 11, addressed concerns that people have been trooping to markets and grocery stores to stock up on food and supplies, and that face masks, sanitizers, and rubbing alcohol were running out due to hoarders.

Kawawa naman ‘yung mga mauubusan (How unfortunate for those who won’t have any left),” Sotto said in a media interview.

Safe po tayo. ‘Wag po tayo magpanic (We’re safe. Let’s not panic),” he added.

Sotto urged his constituents to be considerate, and reminded them that neither the World Health Organization nor the Department of Health recommends wearing face masks to avoid infection. Only people with a cough or cold are encouraged to wear face masks.

Stores in Pasig will not close and there is “no problem at all” when it comes to the availability of food items, he added.

‘Very prepared’

Sotto on Wednesday oversaw efforts to spray disinfectant in the city’s school campuses, as classes and all major public gatherings were canceled.

Pasig has 45 public schools, all of which were routinely disinfected once a month before the viral outbreak. Sotto said the city plans to disinfect campuses twice a week when classes resume. Teams will be sent to disinfect private schools upon their request.

Much-frequented public places like the city hall and wet market will be disinfected daily, and the city government will distribute disinfectant kits to Pasig’s 30 barangays.

“We’re very prepared,” Sotto told reporters, adding that the local government is working closely with the DOH on efforts to combat the virus.

The city has dedicated response teams trained to handle suspected cases of infection. Areas have been designated for isolating suspected cases, and the city’s responders observe the right protocols on triage and referral of patients to the proper health facilities, the mayor added.

11 persons under investigation

Three Pasig residents were earlier diagnosed with COVID-19, which is caused by the new virus; two of them are a couple.

Health officials have traced the patients’ close contacts and identified 11 people as “persons under investigation (PUI)” for the virus. They were placed on home quarantine for 14 days, during which they are isolated and not allowed to leave their houses.

The city government has checked on the 11 PUIs and made sure they had everything they need while they are prohibited from stepping out out of their homes, Sotto said.

A private hospital in Pasig, The Medical City, said it had 8 confirmed novel coronavirus cases under its care as of Wednesday.

Go to health centers first

Anyone with flu-like symptoms or who suspects infection must immediately go to their barangay health center – not hospitals – to be checked.

If all people experiencing symptoms were to go to hospitals right away, it could “overload” Pasig’s hospital system and even increase the risk of infection, Sotto said.

Although Pasig is currently hiring new nurses, the medical staff on hand are so far able to keep up with the demands of responding to the viral threat, he added.

For any questions, Pasig residents may call the city’s health hotline at 8-643-0000. – Rappler.com

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.