"It’s just not much fun in the Philippines right now."
We must heed the urgent call of the Department of Health to avoid crowding to prevent further spread of the new coronavirus or 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease.
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque this weekend strongly urged the general public to continue self-practice measures, as well. He also recommended the cancellation of public events "until further notice."
As of Sunday, the confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV reached 37,558, of which 37, 251 are in China and 307 in other countries, including the Philippines. The number has climbed since the virus' outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Hubei province in January.
There have been at least three confirmed cases in the country; there has been one death. This may seem a small number but the DOH has 284 persons under investigation (PUI).
Our main concern now is to mount a concerted effort to arrest the virus’ continued spread while scientists scramble to discover an antidote or vaccine against this pathogen.
The travel ban to and from China must stay while the DOH, with the help of the Philippine National Police, tracks down people the three local coronavirus patients had contact with.
It's just not much fun in the Philippines right now. Much as we would like to keep the dollars coming, public safety must come first.
At least for the moment, we must heed the DOH call for extreme precautions, such as avoiding unnecessary crowded events or gatherings.
Higher authorities must also look into the fact that the Bureau of Quarantine had allowed some 778 passengers of the World Dream cruise ship from China to disembark and roam Manila last Jan. 29 after the luxury vessel was turned away by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority on the same day.
World Dream along with the Diamond Princess cruise ship have been quarantined offshore in Tokyo, Japan. Another ship from mainland China, the MV Ligulao with a 20-man crew, was also allowed to dock in Manila’s south harbor last Jan 27.
Although no confirmed nCoV has turned out, the permission given to the World Dream passengers from China to go around Manila at the height of the global coronavirus outbreak remains questionable.
There should be no room for such complacency. As Duque said, it is best to self-practice the precautionary measures to avoid infection.
Note that this coronavirus crisis came about when thousands of our fellow Filipinos are still reeling from the devastation of the Taal Volcano eruption.
And yet, the pestilence wrought by the African Swine Flu (ASF) in Luzon is now wreaking havoc in Mindanao, particularly in provinces of Davao Occidental, Davao del Sur, Davao City and General Santos City.
We cannot lay helpless in the face of the grim reality of these widespread diseases. The Department of Agriculture, as well as the DOH, must find a way not only to stop the spread but to actually extinguish these pathogens.
We cannot wait until this coronavirus pandemic threat is eliminated after it started in Wuhan and eventually made its way to the Philippines and other counties.
We simply cannot accept the worst scenario of a global and countrywide coronavirus epidemic occurring at any time. We must be vigilant and prepared.