Philippines to create coronavirus hotline for Filipinos in China

MANILA, Philippines – Amid the global spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced it will set up a dedicated health hotline in its foreign service posts in China.

DFA Undersecretary J Eduardo Malaya made the announcement on Wednesday, January 29, during a House of Representatives committee on foreign relations hearing where he provided updates on preparedness measures taken by the government in response to the new virus.

What we know about the hotline: Malaya said the hotline will be created in coordination with the Department of Health to provide accurate and timely information to Filipinos in China, which is ground zero for the novel coronavirus.

A seven-person "call center" will man the hotlines and will be managed on Chinese social media and messaging platform WeChat, Malaya added.

#DFAAdvisory : DOH WeChat Hotline for Filipinos on n-Coronavirus Outbreak: https://t.co/dV8I8OLZ5q pic.twitter.com/zcz0QbqCMz — DFA Philippines (@DFAPHL) February 1, 2020

What the government is doing: The provision of a hotline is among 4 recommendations crafted by the the Philippine government's task force on the management of emerging infectious diseases.

Other precautionary measures taken include plans for the repatriation and quarantine of Filipinos from the Hubei province who wish to return home; temporary suspension of the issuance of Philippine visas to travelers from Hubei province; and the issuance of advisories discouraging non-essential travel to China.

The latest in the Philippines: Health authorities have not yet recorded any confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in the country.

On Wednesday, health officials disclosed that a man who was among those being monitored for the novel coronavirus in the capital city died of complications due to pneumonia. The DOH said it still needed to collect samples from the 29-year-old man from Yunnan, China, to confirm if he was infected with the coronavirus.

The new virus has so far killed 132 and infected over 6,000 worldwide as of Wednesday. – 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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