PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has declared a state of public health emergency in the country, following the first confirmed case of local transmission of the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
This was confirmed by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, Duterte’s former long-time aide, in a text message yesterday.
Duterte made the decision upon the recommendation of the Department of Health (DOH) to mobilize the government’s resources, ease processes, and intensify reporting about Covid-19.
“Pursuant to the recommendation of the DOH and my suggestion as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to issue a declaration of a State of Public Health Emergency due to the confirmation of local transmission of Covid-19 in our country,” Go said.
Malacañang has yet to issue an official statement, as of press time.
Earlier Saturday, the DOH announced an additional case of Covid-19 in the country, bringing the total number to six.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the sixth Covid-19 patient is the wife of the 62-year-old Filipino male who had no travel history abroad but tested positive for the deadly coronavirus.
The couple is the first case of local transmission in the country.
The 62-year-old patient has severe pneumonia, while his wife, a 59-year-old woman, has a cough and is in stable condition.
The latest development prompted the DOH to raise the Covid-19 Alert System to Code Red sublevel 1, as part of the government’s preemptive measure to prepare national and local governments, as well as public and private health care providers, for a possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases of the disease.
Duque assured the full implementation of intensified contact tracing and home quarantine of close contacts of confirmed cases, improved hospital preparedness, enhanced Severe Acute Respiratory Illness surveillance, and activation of other laboratories outside of the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine to increase capacity to diagnose.
He also told the public that the DOH would make sure that Filipinos would be protected from Covid-19.
“This declaration (of state of public health emergency) is a signal to all concerned agencies, local government units, and health care providers to be ready to implement planned response measures,” Duque said.