With the Philippines being an archipelagic country with numerous entry points and the expected influx of Chinese nationals because of the Chinese New Year holiday, Senator Dick Gordon has called on concerned government agencies to put in place plans to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV).

“I would like to call on the leadership of all government agencies to immediately put in place the preparedness plans, a time of high risk – travelling of people from China to all parts of the world – information is critical, and all the mandatory quarantine and contact tracing machinery needs to be in place,” Gordon said in a privilege speech.

“Let us sound the alarm now and prepare for a worst-case scenario.”

“Let us not wait for this to go out of hand. Let us sound the alarm now and prepare for a worst-case scenario. Through timely preparedness we will save lives and protect our people from an unthinkable and preventable illness that could cause serious disease and unexpected death. So, what are the plans? What are the protocols for hospitals? What measures are in place to prepare for an outbreak?” the veteran legislator added.

The seasoned lawmaker also noted that with the Department of Health (DOH) disclosing that it is now investigating and monitoring four Chinese nationals who have fever, throat irritation, cough and flu-like symptoms and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent statement that it’s “extremely crucial” to take every possible measure to combat a new coronavirus that has infected 217 people in China, it would not be overacting to prepare for the worst.  

While commending the DOH for being on top of the situation, the senator, however, noted the need to place all airports and seaports in the country on full alert and to put a “firewall” in hospitals which can prevent the virus from spreading.

He also proposed that hospitals should put up an isolation ward where suspected cases could seek medical attention without having to go inside the main wards or designate specific hospitals to cater these kinds of cases.

“Every hospital, every health facility has to put in place contingency plans for patients who are consulting for runny nose, cough, sore throat and fever.”

“It is our duty to prepare for a possible spread of the 2019-nCOV in our country. Airports and seaports need to be on full alert. Beyond this, every hospital, every health facility public, private or run by local governments – have to put in place contingency plans for patients who are consulting for runny nose, cough, sore throat and fever. With more than half a million people also in evacuation sites in Batangas, one could imagine how a contagious virus could wreak havoc on our people who are displaced,” he stressed.

The 2019-nCOV is the 7th known type of coronavirus that humans can contract. The World Health Organization said it is “a never-before-seen strain belonging to a broad family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERSCoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.

Common signs of coronavirus infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, it can cause pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.

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