SO it has come to pass that the DOH, through Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, has announced to the world that the Philippines is no longer free of the Wuhan coronavirus.
I watched a replay of the announcement as the health secretary read a prepared statement.
From that statement we now know that the first confirmed case is of a 38-year-old female, a Chinese from Wuhan, who arrived from Hong Kong last Jan. 21 and visited Cebu and Dumaguete. Duque says she reported to a hospital on the 25th complaining of cough, and the lab in Victoria, Australia finally confirmed yesterday that yes she was afflicted with the Wuhan coronavirus.
Immediately, a number of questions came to mind: 1) Should Duque keep his post? 2) What air carrier did the tourist take from Hong Kong to the Philippines? 3) Will Duque keep his post? 4) Was it a direct flight to Cebu and how did she get to Dumaguete? 5) Will Duque keep his post? 6) Was she in Cebu for the Sinulog? 7) Will Duque keep his post? 8) Was she alone? 9) Will Duque keep his post? 10) Have her fellow passengers been informed?
Time and again the current Health secretary urged the public to remain calm. Frankly, I wanted to throw a shoe at the screen but I was watching the replay on my phone which made that gesture quite tough to do. Remain calm? He also kept saying that the DOH and the Quarantine Bureau were on top of the situation. Really? This was the man who allegedly said that he was against banning visitors from China for diplomatic and political reasons! Which, translated to street language, means “manigas kayo kasi ayaw ko magalit ang kapitbahay natin.”
To which could be added “eh kung giyerahin tayo nun?”
I am sorry but the fact that we need to send samples to Victoria, Australia before we can confirm a case of the Wuhan coronavirus here does not help raise my level of confidence in the current Health secretary, especially not after he effectively told me that good neighborliness with our big and powerful neighbor outweighs my own health and safety.
The President was kind enough to keep Sec. Duque in his post despite the Philhealth scandal; maybe this health scare should be made the crowning glory of his career?
We need a new, younger and more dynamic Health secretary. This coronavirus case needs to be faced with all the energy and dynamism and even creativity that we can muster.