Duterte to announce new measures vs COVID-19 spread on Thursday evening
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte confers with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malacañan Palace on March 9, 2020.
Presidential Communications Operations Office, file

Duterte to announce new measures vs COVID-19 spread on Thursday evening

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - March 12, 2020 - 3:30pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has adopted a resolution on measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Palace said Thursday.

However, the proposed measures will still be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte.

"The contents of the resolution will be announced to the public following approval by the president," presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

The resolution comes amid persistent rumors that Metro Manila, or parts of it, will be locked down due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region. The Philippine National Police has clarified that there is no lockdown order yet.

The Palace also expressed concern on Thursday over the World Health Organization's declaration of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as a pandemic but assured the public that measures are in place to contain the infection.

COVID-19, which has left about 4,200 people dead and has infected more than 118,000 others infected worldwide, was declared a global pandemic last Wednesday due to rising number of cases outside China, the epicenter of the disease.

The number of infected persons and deaths are expected to climb in the days and weeks ahead, according to the WHO, which also chided what it described as the "inaction" of some governments.

"We are seriously concerned with the passing of development of the spread of the virus and the government is ready," Panelo told radio station dzRH.

"We have established protocols and measures to arrest the spread (of the virus) and more importantly, that is why we are asking our countrymen to monitor the medical bulletins," he added.

Panelo said the public should do its part in preventing the spread of COVID-19 by practicing personal hygiene, avoiding crowded places and observing social distance for those who have coughs and colds. He also reiterated his appeal for the public to avoid spreading unverified information.

In a statement, Panelo said the government would also run after businesses that take advantage of the panic over COVID-19.

"The Office of the President hereby gives warning to those hoarding vital commodities, which create a hike in the prices, as well as selling them beyond their regular prices, that their actions will be dealt with accordingly in pursuance of public safety and order," the Palace official said.  

"Those who unscrupulously take advantage of the health crisis will also be arrested and dealt with in accordance with law,: he added.  

Panelo also urged media outlets to "refrain from exaggerating or amplifying reports that may only affect the mindset of the public."

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