MANILA - Suspected cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Philippines is a “serious concern” for President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, his spokesperson said Wednesday as authorities continued to monitor 23 people that may have the pathogen.
Manila remains free from the virus which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has claimed at least 132 lives and infected 5,974 in China as of Wednesday.
“We’re looking at it with serious concern and the President has instructed the [Health] secretary to study and evaluate what better procedures should be taken in order to contain, stop the coming of this disease to the country,” Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters in Malacañang.
Local health authorities are monitoring 17 suspected novel coronavirus cases in Metro Manila, 1 in Western Visayas, 1 in the Southwestern Tagalog region, 1 in Eastern Visayas, 2 in Central Visayas and 1 in the Davao Region.
Most of those being monitored had travel history to Wuhan and are mostly foreigners.
Panelo also urged Filipinos to heed government health advisories such as frequent handwashing, avoiding crowded places, and wearing face masks to avoid getting sick.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization.