MANILA, Philippines – The United States announced it was donating nearly P203.9 million ($4 million) in health assistance to help the Philippines address the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has infected over 2,000 people in the country.
The US embassy in Manila made this announcement on Wednesday, April 1, saying the aid was part of approximately $18.3 million in emergency health and humanitarian assistance provided to members states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Health assistance to the Philippines will go to preparing laboratories for large-scale processing of coronavirus tests, as well as the activation of "case-finding and event-based surveillance.” Aid will also support experts in response and preparedness planning, risk communication, and infection prevention and control.
The Philippines currently has 6 laboratories, including the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine, processing tests at full scale. Another 49 more labs are being prepared to fully handle tests.
Aside from this, the US embassy said the US Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency conducted trainings and exercises, and provided locally sourced personal protective equipment and laboratory equipment.
The donation comes as Philippine-US relations hit a low earlier this year after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the two countries’ decades-old Visiting Forces Agreement be terminated. Duterte wanted the end the deal over the US’ supposed interference in his drug war and the cancellation of the visa of his former police chief and now Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa.
Cases continue to climb in the Philippines with health officials counting 2,311 coronavirus cases, including 96 deaths and 50 recoveries.
The global death toll has surpassed 40,000, while more than 840,000 have been infected in over 180 countries and territories – Rappler.com
*$1 = P50.98