MANILA, Philippines – The novel coronavirus outbreak is worsening in the Philippines. From just 6 cases on March 7, the total number of has reached 142 as of Monday, March 16. Of the 142 cases, 12 patients have died.
President Rodrigo Duterte on March 9 declared a state of public health emergency in the country, where medical supplies and protective gear for health workers were dwindling by the hour.
Duterte on March 16 also placed the entire island of Luzon under enhanced community quarantine to help stop the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by 2019-nCoV.
But this isn’t the first outbreak faced by the Philippines. In 2002 to 2003, the country faced the threat of SARS or the severe acute respiratory disease.
Unlike COVID-19, SARS was able to infect only 14 persons in the Philippines, making it the lowest count among the 30 countries affected by the disease.
At the center of the country’s successful containment of the SARS outbreak was Dr Manuel Dayrit, then the secretary of the Department of Health. He helped build the infrastructure the government is supposed to be implementing now that another disease, COVID-19, is spreading in the Philippines.
What lessons from the SARS outbreak can the Duterte administration apply now in containing the spread of COVID-19? How can the government improve its response to the new disease – from testing suspected cases to relaying information to the public?
Bookmark this page for when Rappler reporter Mara Cepeda sits down with Dr Dayrit via a Skype interview on Tuesday, March 17, at 5 pm, to answer your most burning questions on how to contain outbreaks. – Rappler.com