MANILA – Amid growing cases of Covid-19 infections, President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday appealed to Filipinos “to remain calm, vigilant and responsible” as the country fights the spread of the coronavirus disease.
“I call on our people to remain calm, vigilant and responsible and I also ask your trust and cooperation, support as we face the challenge. Tayo ay magkaisa (Let’s unite) together as one nation, this challenge can be overcome,” Duterte said in a taped message aired on state-run RTVM on Thursday morning.
Duterte said the government, together with the World Health Organization (WHO), medical societies, and partners in private sectors are addressing the problem and preparing for any eventuality.
He also assured Filipinos staying in China that the government is prepared to repatriate them anytime they wanted to return home.
“To our kababayans who remain in lockdown areas in China, I assure you that the government is ready to bring you home if you want. Hindi naman kayo papabayaan (We won’t leave you behind),” Duterte said.
As for the first batch of Filipino repatriates who are currently staying in the quarantine facility inside the Athletes’ Village at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, Duterte assured them that government is taking care of them.
Earlier, Malacañang said the government will shoulder the costs of tests, medicines, confinement, and all hospital-related expenses for those undergoing quarantine in government hospitals and facilities.
Government has also banned the entry of all foreign nationals from mainland China and its administrative regions Hong Kong and Macao as well as Taiwan. However, Filipinos and foreigners with permanent resident visas are allowed in the Philippines but will have to undergo quarantine.
Duterte acknowledged that it is “normal” to feel anxious, concerned, and afraid of the possibility of a local outbreak but reminded them to observe safety precautions to minimize the chances of being infected.
“Maging malinis. Hugasan yung kamay frequently, yung paulit ulit. Kung every handshake mo, kung humatsing ka, takpan mo bunganga mo at tingnan mo hindi ka makahawa sa ibang tao. Kung ikaw naman ay may ubo, mag mask ka na lang (Be clean. Wash your hands frequently, repeatedly. In every handshake, when you sneeze, cover your mouth and make sure you don’t contaminate other people. If you are coughing, wear a mask),” Duterte said.
He also urged Filipinos to be wary of false information about Covid-19 being spread to spark panic and paranoia.
“Maging maingat at yung mga impormasyon na importante na manggaling sa WHO, ay ating pakinggan. At huwag makinig diyan sa mga haka-haka (Be careful and listen to important information coming from the WHO. Don’t listen to rumors),” Duterte said.
Instead of believing fake news, Duterte reminded Filipinos to believe only information coming from reliable sources such as the WHO and government.
“Sa gobyerno kayo nakatutok. Nandiyan ang totoo sa gobyerno, wala diyan sa mga taong haka-haka na wala namang ginawa kung hindi manakot para kapwa niya tao (Focus on government. Real information comes from government, not on rumors that have no other purpose but to instill fear among us),” he said.
In an interview over dzBB, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo rejected criticism that Duterte considers the Covid-19 as a political issue and health only being secondary.
“Hindi totoo iyon dahil hindi naman tayo gumagalaw nang ganoon, palaging health issue tayo (That’s not true because we don’t work that way. It’s always a health issue for us),” Panelo said.
There are three confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Philippines, all of which are foreigners, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
There is no evidence yet of local community transmission in the country, health authorities said.
As of February 12, there are 238 persons under investigation for Covid-19 currently admitted in various health facilities, while 165 PUIs have been discharged in the country.
A total of 208 PUIs have tested negative and three tested positive for the novel coronavirus. There are 197 cases pending test results from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.
The death toll from Covid-19 increased to 1,367, nearly all of the fatalities in China, while the total confirmed cases worldwide reached more than 60,000, only about 500 cases were reported outside China. (PNA)