PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday told local government executives to be more pro-active and follow the advice of the national government led by the Department of Health in handling cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV).
The President, in a meeting with the local government executives at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, also urged everyone to trust the national government as he said it remains on top of the situation.
He defended Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who, he said, are like world experts who have the experience and education in handling the current health situation.
“The national government remains to be on top of threat of the coronavirus. We are prepared to handle this public health emergency in case the worst possible scenario happens. Maniwala kayo sa gobyerno (Believe in government). In a crisis involving deaths and getting people sick, we will do our very best at maniwala kayo,” Duterte said.
He said the DOH has set up measures and protocols to prevent the spread of the virus, including the quarantine of Filipinos or foreigners coming from China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, similar to what the government did when 32 Filipinos arrived on from Wuhan City, epicenter of the virus, on Sunday.
The President said the repatriates were swiftly brought to Athletes’ Village in Tarlac, where they would stay during the 14-day quarantine period.
Duterte reminded the local government officials that in case of the worst-case scenario, the national government would take over and use facilities it deem are needed for quarantine and treatment of nCoV patients.
He said local governments can suggest places that can be used but the national government would decide based on what is good for the majority.
The President also reassured Filipinos overseas that the Philippine government is ready to get them and fly them back to the country if needed, and urged everyone to abide by rules wherever they are.
“Whether you like it or not, I will bring them home because they have no other country to seek shelter. Kung ang Pilipino doon ay pinapaalis, pupunta tayo. We will marshal, all courier by ship or by air,” he said.
Duque, in an interview prior to the meeting with the LGUs, said nCoV is not an air-borne disease as feared by some people.
He reminded the public of the need to observe health and sanitary etiquettes like hand-washing and avoiding crowds, and temporarily foregoing huge gatherings.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, in a separate interview prior to the event, assured the public that the government is in control of the nCoV situation and that the local government units are well informed and would know what to do in case there are reported or suspected cases in their areas.
He also urged the public to be more discerning amid the spread of fake news about the virus.