President Rodrigo Duterte might consider replicating the move of Japan to ask schools to close for a month to control COVID-19 after the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the risk assessment to “very high,” the Palace said Sunday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said it could be done if the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease would recommend it, but said there is no need for such drastic action now.
“If the President can see the threat increasing and there is a recommendation from the inter-agency, it may also be done. At present, there’s none,” Panelo said in a radio interview.
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The Palace official also assured the public that the government has been prepared to step up efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
The WHO has commended the Philippines and eight other countries for showing that the spread of the deadly disease “can be contained.” The other countries cited by the global organization were Belgium,
Cambodia, Finland, India, Nepal, the Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, and Sweden.
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“Even the World Health Organization has commended the Philippines. We are containing the virus very well. That’s why our fellow Filipinos should not worry,” Panelo said.
The Philippines has temporarily banned the entry of tourists from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and North Gyeongsang province in South Korea in a bid to prevent the disease from spreading.
Filipinos are also banned from traveling in those countries except if they are permanent residents, students, and workers there.
Three cases of COVID-19 involving three Chinese nationals were confirmed in the Philippines. One of the patients died, while the remaining two recovered from the disease.
Currently, there is no case of local transmission of the virus in the country.
As of Feb. 29, there were over 85,000 cases of Covid-19 worldwide and over 2,900 deaths.
On Sunday, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said 10 of the repatriates from the Diamond Princes cruise ship showed symptoms of COVID-19, but seven of them had tested negative for the virus.
The remaining three were still awaiting their test results, she added.
The 445 repatriates from the cruise ship began their 14-day quarantine at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac on Tuesday.
The number of Filipinos abroad who have tested positive for COVID-19 rose to 86 after a 41-year-old Filipino woman in Singapore was confirmed to have the virus.
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