This file photo taken on January 25, 2020 shows medical staff members wearing protective clothing to help stop the spread of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus which began in the city, walking at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan.
AFP/Hector Retamal
DOH: We asked China to send doctors to help with COVID-19 response
Alexis Romero ( - March 30, 2020 - 5:47pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday clarified that it has no problem allowing Chinese doctors to enter the Philippines to lend their expertise on addressing the outbreak of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. earlier claimed on his Twitter account that the DOH is "blocking" the arrival of Chinese doctors who were requested to help the government contain the disease, which has infected at least 1,546 people in the country.

In a tweet posted Saturday, Locsin told the DOH not to piss him off and to let the Chinese doctors in.

But DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire clarified that the department is not opposed to the arrival of Chinese medical practitioners, saying the department was the one that requested China to send in doctors.  

"We were the ones who wrote (to China). We have this official document. We have officially communicated to our embassy asking whether we can request experts from their country," Vergeire said in a televised press briefing.

"We want to learn, we want them to give us advice on the measures we are implementing against COVID-19. We want them to share their expertise because their country was able to stop the increase in the number of cases. We want to learn from them," she added.

The rising number of COVID-19 cases has prompted the government to prohibit foreigners from entering the country.

The disease, which originated in Wuhan, China last December, has infected more than 720,000 persons and has claimed the lives of nearly 34,000 others worldwide.

Previous reports said the outbreak in China has slowed down, with the United States and Italy already surpassing the east Asian country in terms of the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Some sectors, however, suspect that Chinese authorities are not providing accurate reports about the COVID-19 situation in their country.

At the same press briefing, Vergeire said the DOH is studying whether to participate in the "solidarity" trial of drugs for COVID-19 initiated by the World Health Organization. 

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