In this July 25, 2019 photo, some Metro Manila mayors and officials of the Metro Manila Development Authority and Department of Interior and Local Government meet ahead of the Metro Manila Council meeting.
Manila PIO/Released
Here's what Metro Manila is doing to address the novel coronavirus risk
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - February 5, 2020 - 6:42pm

MANILA, Philippines — The 17 local government units in Metro Manila have taken steps to protect their residents against the threat posed by the novel coronavirus, a House panel found on Wednesday.

At the House Committee on Metro Manila Development hearing chaired by Rep. Manuel Lopez (Manila, 1st District) local government officials disclosed their preventive measures against the virus.

Citing the presence of 1,705 barangays and 40 legislative districts in the metro, Rep. Jun Datol (Senior Citizens party-List) said that "the window of our country is Metro Manila. Dito po kasi ang pinakamaraming tao sa buong Pilipinas. Ang problema natin ay nasa Metro Manila." 

Although the government is acting to address the threat, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said that the Department of Health has not yet declared an outbreak status over the virus as no Filipinos have been affected yet. 

"We have not declared any outbreak because there is no Filipino citizen who is confirmed [to have been infected]. The confirmed cases are foriegners," she said.

MMDA seeks help, guidance from DOH, police

According to Michael Salalima, chief of the Metro Manila Development Authority's Metropolitan Public Safety Office, the 17 LGUs in the National Capital Region have created a task force in their areas to address 2019-nCoV. 

Department of Education Regional Director Malcolm Garma meanwhile raised concerns on whether or not classes and extracurricular activities should be suspended as the number of patients under investigation inch upward.

According to Garma, the department has already opted push back all national and regional events planned in February to a later date.

Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan Partylist) said the responsibility to keep students safe should not fall on DepEd alone, and that the Commission on Higher Education should also be taking a more proactive stance towards the risk of 2019-nCoV spreading. 

For Salalima, addressing the widespread fear and panic among the public is the MPSO's focus. Salalima said his office has requested the Department of Health to provide them uniform information material that can disseminated in all cities. 

He said the DOH should also provide a protocol that LGUs can use in dealing with PUIs and suspected nCoV carriers. He added the Health department can help identify potential hotspots.

"We also requested from NCR Police Office how to go about their memorandum in as far as assisting [Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices] and DOH sa pagkuha po ng mga matitigas na ulo na mga PUIs or nandoon na sa hospital, nagwawala pa po. Yun po ang protocols na pinapalinaw namin, but we are assuring that the 17 LGUs are connected with the MMDA po," he said. 

(We also requested the NCR Police Office to clarify protocols on how we can get 'hardheaded' PUIs...)

Dr. Cora Flores, DOH regional director for NCR, also said that each city has been assigned "city surveillance officers" to monitor for persons under investigations as each hospital in Metro Manila conducted an "inventory" of available isolation rooms. 

Some of the local government units in Metro Manila sent representatives to tell members of the committee the specific preparations in their cities.

Mandaluyong

  • All barangay officials and establishments have met with the LGU
  • Holding areas in front of hospital have been put up
  • Medical director has allotted an entire floor for isolation purposes  

Makati 

  • Coordinated with local barangays and are planning to increase isolation sites 
  • Plans for identifying other sites and quarantine areas

Marikina

  • Coordinated with the DOH and the MMDA 
  • Marikina said to be ready for an outbreak scenario 
  • Palarong Pambansa, which is hosted by Marikina, is still not covered by DepEd's suspension of activities 

Pasay

  • Pasay said to be ready 
  • Conducted meetings since January 
  • No areas of quarantine designated yet 
  • Quarantine needs will be referred to hospitals designated by Department of Health

Quezon City

According to the office of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, the mayor has inspected the Quezon City Medical Center, Rosario Maclang Bautista General Hospital and the Novaliches District Hospital to check their readiness in case of any nCoV cases in the city.

The hospitals have been provided safety equipment and isolation tents, her office said Tuesday.

City health officials have also met with private hospitals to discuss safety protocols for handling potential nCoV cases.

"Also, the 80 frontline responders and logistics personnel of the QC Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, headed by Mike Marasigan, recently underwent preparedness training on the proper use of personal protective equipment, proper handling of patients, and proper disposal and disinfection of equipment," her office also said.

2019 NCOV DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS EXPLAINER HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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