SENATORS on Wednesday asked the Health department and other agencies to draft an emergency plan after a Chinese boy tested positive for coronavirus, days after Japan and Thailand confirmed their first case of infection from a new strain that originated in Wuhan, China.
“I would like to call on the leadership of all government agencies to immediately put in place the preparedness plans for this weekend,” Senator Richard Gordon said in a statement.
He said information is critical and all mandatory quarantine and contact-tracing machinery must be put in place.
The virus, in the same family as the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), has killed at least six patients and sickened dozens in China.
The boy tested positive for coronavirus but was negative for SARS and MERS, the Health department said on Tuesday.
Samples from the patient were sent to Australia for further testing to determine the strain of coronavirus he was infected with.
World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines Country Representative Rabinda Abeyasinghe earlier said they were working with authorities in China, where majority of the more than 200 cases occurred, to monitor the new virus strain.
Mr. Gordon said airports and seaports must be on full alert, while hospitals should designate an isolation ward where suspected cases could be treated.
Senator Nancy S. Binay filed Senate Resolution 293, seeking to inquire into the measures and funding requirements needed in case if an outbreak.
“Preemptive measures will always the better option,” she said.
While coronavirus cases are normally transmitted from animals to humans, the new strain was said to have been transmitted between humans.
Health authorities have advised the public to observe proper hygiene and cough etiquette, including covering the mouth when one coughs or sneezes.
The Philippines is working with airport authorities to monitor cases involving arriving tourists, Health officials said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan