Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the Department of Education (DepEd) to put schools on alert and ensure that preventive measures are in place to protect students from a new coronavirus strain that has already infected 222 people across neighboring China, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.

Gatchalian underscored the need for safety measures following an announcement by the Department of Health (DOH), which revealed a suspected case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection of a 5-year-old boy who flew in from Wuhan, China to Cebu City. The child is currently stable but has shown flu-like symptoms such as cough, throat irritation, and fever. The 2019-nCoV was first detected in Wuhan City on December 31, 2019.

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that result in a range of illnesses from the common cold to more severe diseases, including the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus (SARS-CoV).

The 5-year old boy, at first, tested negative for MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. However, he tested positive for an unidentified coronavirus. A specimen from the child is sent to Australia to identify the coronavirus strain.

“Schools should exhaust all measures from information dissemination to intensified sanitary measures.”

While there are no confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV in the Philippines to date, the veteran solon said schools should exhaust all measures from information dissemination to intensified sanitary measures to keep students, school employees and workers, safe.

“Sa ating pangambang makapasok itong bagong coronavirus sa ating bansa, mabuti nang maging sigurado tayo dahil ang isang kumpirmadong kaso ay maaaring maikalat sa iba,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

The senator added that schools should have protocols in place should students displaying flu-like symptoms be identified.

“Schools should emphasize preventive measures and practice good hygiene.” 

He added that schools should emphasize preventive measures and practice good hygiene such as frequent handwashing, observance of cough etiquette, distancing one’s self from people with respiratory problems, and proper cooking of food, to name a few.

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