Duterte signs proclamation declaring state of public emergency
People wearing face masks walk past the main gates of the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila on February 2, 2020.
AFP/Maria Tan
Duterte signs proclamation declaring state of public emergency
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - March 9, 2020 - 12:43pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday morning signed Proclamation 922 declaring a state of public health emergency throughout the country amid the worsening novel coronavirus (COVID-19) scare. 

That same day, the Department of Health confirmed four more patients carrying the pathogen, bringing the national total to 10 confirmed patients. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also confirmed the local transmission of COVID-19 in the wake of the string of new cases. 

With the proclamation, the DOH may call upon the Philippine National Police (PNP) "and other law enforcement agencies to provide assistance" in addressing the threat of the virus.

All government agencies, local government units are enjoined to render all assistance needed while citizens and tourists are urged to "act within the bounds of law and comply with lawful directives." 

The declaration facilitates the mobilization of resources, the intensifying of quarantine measures and ease of processes, while a "code red" alert means that all hospital personnel are required to report for duty in their respective facilities to provide medical services. 

Under Republic Act 11332—the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act—a public health emergency refers to an “occurrence of an imminent threat of an illness or health condition which could pose a high probability of a large number of deaths… widespread exposure to an infectious agent.”

Other initiatives

The World Health Organization (WHO) praised the measures undertaken by the DOH in its surveillance of the novel coronavirus scare in the Philippines. 

This came after Duque, at the Laging Handa press briefing that day, bared the department's protocols after the chief executive's proclamation.  

"We need to respect the local chief executives decision to suspend classes," Duque asserted. 

The Health secretary cited the following measures: 

  • Recommending Levels 2 and 3 hospitals to open triage areas in their emergency rooms for testing of COVID-19 
  • All Level 2 and 3 hospitals directed to attend to patients suspected and confirmed and with symptoms 
  • Only severe at critical cases shall be referred to Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, San Lazaro Hospital and Lung Center of the Philippines
  • DOH will be disclosing hospital names to combat fake news 
  • DOH will be requesting testing kits from China 

"As much as 80% of confirmed cases of COVID-19 are mild," he said, though he admitted that a large part of the data used was coming from China and WHO.

The DOH earlier assured the public that 98% of COVID-19 patients eventually fully recover.

READ: 'Not a death sentence': DOH says 98% of nCoV patients get better

"Hospitals have infection prevention so there is no need to avoid going to these hospitals especially if you feel unwell," Duque said.

He also bared that the department already begun coordinating with the NDRRMC. 

As of this writing, there are a total of 105,586 patients in the world while there are 10 confirmed cases in the Philippines.

Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the WHO's country director for the Philippines assured the public: "We can still control the spread of this disease and prevent it from being a global pandemic."

At the same media briefing, Abeyasinghe urged the public not to go to work or school if they were exhibiting any respiratory symptoms linked to COVID-19. 

For his part, Duque assured the public that the transmission of the virus should not be a cause for concern as long as there was no history of exposure to patients, travel history to restricted areas and existing signs and symptoms. 

"Unknowingly, still, the mode of transmission is respiratory droplets. So this is still a very limited distance within which the droplets may land on the surface. That could randomly transmit the virus. Kung mga casual na daanan, hindi dapat mag-alala. You don't have to be alarmed," Duque said.

Update on fifth patient 

Asked about the status of the fifth patient, a 62-year-old Filipino man, the Health secretary said the case was "guarded."

"This is a critical case. The elderly individual male has pre-existing medical condition like hypertension, diabetes, among others," Duque said. 

"We're doing everything to save the life of this patient, but for critical cases, the time it takes for them to recover is extended. So he will stay in the hospital. Hopefully in the coming days we will see improvements."

LIST: Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines 

According to Duque, existing data on patients of the virus shows that highest fatality is among males over 70 with underlying health conditions. 

Duque also said that contact tracing for the man, who was a regular at a Muslim prayer hall in San Juan, was still ongoing. "Nagpapatuloy po ito, but that has been done. We're trying to get the leaders of that group to be more cooperative," he said. 

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: November 26, 2020 - 5:37pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

November 26, 2020 - 5:37pm

Russia on Thursday registered record numbers for daily infections and deaths from the coronavirus for the second time in less than a week. 

Health officials reported 25,487 new infections, bringing the national total to 2,187,990 cases since the beginning of the pandemic — the fifth-highest caseload in the world.

Health authorities also reported 524 deaths, raising Russia's total fatalities from COVID-19 to 38,062. — AFP

November 26, 2020 - 2:14pm

South Korea reported its highest daily number of coronavirus cases since March on Thursday, with a surge of new infections sparking fears of a major third wave.

Officials announced 583 new cases after several weeks of fresh infections ranging between around 100 and 300.

The latest cases have mostly been clusters at offices, schools, gyms and small gatherings in the greater Seoul area, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.

New infections also emerged within the military, including dozens of newly enlisted soldiers at a boot camp — prompting the defense ministry to bolster its virus measures. — AFP

November 26, 2020 - 1:29pm

South Korea reported its highest daily number of coronavirus cases since March on Thursday, with a surge of new infections sparking fears of a major third wave.

Officials announced 583 new cases after several weeks of fresh infections ranging between around 100 and 300.

The latest cases have mostly been clusters at offices, schools, gyms and small gatherings in the greater Seoul area, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said. — AFP

November 26, 2020 - 8:31am

The coronavirus pandemic is no excuse for not getting enough exercise, the World Health Organization says Wednesday, warning that even before the crisis many were getting too little physical activity. 

In an update of its physical activity guidelines, the UN health agency stressed that exercise was vital to physical and mental health, while sedentary behaviour can have serious repercussions.

"WHO urges everyone to continue to stay active through the Covid-19 pandemic," the agency's head of health promotion Ruediger Krech told reporters.

"If we do not remain active, we run the risk of creating another pandemic of ill-health as a result of sedentary behavior." — AFP

November 25, 2020 - 8:29pm

The coronavirus crisis has hit Italy's already historically-low birth rate, new projections from the national statistics agency reveal. 

Italy had last year already recorded its lowest number of births for 150 years, at 420,000, but this could fall to 408,000 in 2020 and 393,000 in 2021, according to Istat.

The projections were presented by Istat chief, Gian Carlo Blangiardo, to lawmakers on Tuesday.

"The climate of fear and uncertainty as well as financial difficulties... caused by recent events will have a negative effect on the fertility of Italian couples," he said. — AFP

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