Philippine president to declare state of emergency

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MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will declare a state of public health emergency after the Department of Health or DOH confirmed the local transmission of the virus that causes the Covid-19 acute respiratory disease, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Saturday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III recommended the measure after health authorities said that another Filipino, the third in the country, was found positive for Covid-19, bringing to six the total number of confirmed cases in the Philippines.

The president agreed to the recommendation to help authorities better respond to the Covid-19 cases in the country, according to Panelo.

With the confirmation of local transmission, Duque said he has raised the DOH’s alert level to “Red Sublevel 1.”

“The…proposal has been raised to the attention of the president who has agreed to issue such declaration after considering all critical factors with the aim of safeguarding the health of the Filipino public,” Panelo said in a statement.

He did not say when it might be declared by the president.

The declaration, Duque said, would help ease the procurement of critical logistics and supplies, as well as ensure that reporting of cases would intensify.

“This is a preemptive call to ensure that national and local governments and public and private health care providers can prepare for the possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases,” Duque said at a press briefing.

The declaration will prompt all concerned agencies, local governments and health care providers to implement response measures, he added.

The Department of Health said it had recorded six confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines as of Saturday.

The latest case is the 59-year-old wife of a 62-year-old diabetic who had not traveled to any of the 88 countries where the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been spreading.

The man, a resident of Cainta town in Rizal province, east of Manila was brought to Cardinal Santos Medical Center on Sunday with severe pneumonia.

He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Thursday and was in “guarded condition” but with an acute kidney injury on Saturday, according to Celia Carlos, director of the Regional Institute for Tropical Medicine.

His wife and constant companion was confirmed to have been infected on Saturday and was in stable condition.

The second Filipino found to have also been infected is a 48-year-old lawyer who had returned from a trip to Japan on Feb. 25. He was confirmed to have the virus also on Thursday and was moved from St. Luke’s Global in Taguig City, Metro Manila to the Regional Institute for Tropical Medicine. where he is in stable condition.

Nearly a month ago, the Philippines detected the virus in three Chinese tourists, all of them from Wuhan city in central China, the epicenter of the outbreak. One of the tourists died of pneumonia and the two others have recovered and have flown home.

On Saturday, the health authorities in Quezon province, southeast of Manila, announced that they had recorded a new suspected carrier of the coronavirus disease classified as patient under investigation or PUI.

In a public advisory, the Integrated Provincial Health Office or IPHO said the new PUI is confined in an undisclosed hospital in the province and is being attended to by the Department of Health and IPHO medical staff while awaiting the result of the specimen tests from the national reference laboratory.

The PUIs are those who recently traveled to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and other countries with confirmed Covid-19 cases who have consulted doctors due to coughs, cold, or fever after they returned home.

“We’re still getting our facts,” Dr. Grace Santiago, Quezon health officer, replied in an online interview when asked for further details about the new PUI.

The public advisory was signed by Santiago and Dr. Anneavbit Talan-De Luna, provincial medical coordinator.

The IPHO emphasized that as of Saturday, “Quezon remains negative for COVID-19 cases.”

The seven PUIs recorded earlier have tested negative for the virus and have been discharged from hospitals and sent home.

The local health authorities also recorded a total of 81 possible virus carriers classified as person under monitoring (or UM status in the province. But at least 74 have completed the mandatory 14-day home quarantine period and remained healthy and without any respiratory symptoms, the IPHO said.

The remaining seven PUMs were still under home quarantine and close observation.

The PUMs are those who recently traveled to places abroad with confirmed Covid-19 cases “but showed no respiratory symptoms and were advised to go into home quarantine” immediately after their arrival.

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