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12 Chinese experts tapped to aid PH coronavirus response

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A 12-man team of Chinese doctors and experts has been selected to aid the Philippines in its response to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak. 

The Chinese embassy in the Philippines made the announcement on Thursday, April 2, saying the team is expected to arrive in the Philippines "this weekend." The embassy did not provide a specific date.  

The arrival of the team of doctors and public health experts is the latest in China's assistance to the Philippines since the outbreak began in early January.  

Earlier on Monday, March 30, Philippine health officials requested China to send experts who can share with them technical advice on "epidemic prevention" and their experience in treating coronavirus patients.  

The Inter-Agency Task Force on the coronavirus pandemic announced on Saturday, April 4, that it has authorized the technical visit of the Chinese experts.

What to expect: The Chinese embassy in the Philippines said the group will provide technical guidance and share their experience in epidemic prevention control, implementation of public health policies, and medical treatment, among others. 

Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta Romana earlier said the Chinese doctors will serve more as an advisory panel and will not practice medicine nor treat patients in the Philippines.

Who is part of the team? The following 12 experts come from the First Affiliated Hospital of Fujian Medical University (FAHFMU), Fujian Provincial Hospital (FPH), Fujian People's Hospital Affiliated to Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (FPHAFUTCM), and Fujian Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention (FPCDCP).

Those part of the team were the following: 

The medical expert team, the Chinese embassy said, is "good at both traditional Chinese and Western medicine, involving COVID-19 treatment, testing, disease control, and other aspects."

The team is expected to share "China experience" in the fight against COVID-19," the Chinese embassy said.

New priorities: The decrease in the number of new coronavirus cases in China – the ground zero of the novel coronavirus – has given the country room to focus more resources on providing aid to other countries affected by the virulent disease. 

In ramping up foreign assistance, some observers have noted that China's efforts were a way to deflect criticism over its handling of coronavirus cases in the crucial early days of the outbreak.  

Reports have shown a lack of transparency lead to delays in early response, while United States intelligence found China had been "covering up" coronavirus numbers. (READ: Mask diplomacy: China tries to rewrite virus narrative)

China earlier donated 100,000 testing kits, 10,000 N95 masks, 10,000 personal protective equipment sets, and 100,000 surgical masks to the Philippines, while other donations were made between sister cities.

As of Thursday, the Philippines has 2,633 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 107 deaths and 51 recoveries. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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