PH says it’s safe to attend public gatherings amid COVID-19 scare

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 18 2020 05:18 PM | Updated as of Feb 18 2020 06:09 PM

Commuters mostly wearing face masks cross at a busy street in Mandaluyong, Feb. 5, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Philippine government agencies on Tuesday announced it is safe to attend concerts and other big gatherings despite the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China.

A statement posted by the Department of Tourism (DOT) on its Twitter account said that it is “safe to organize and attend public gatherings, meetings and festivals as long as all precautionary measures identified by the DOH (Department of Health) are observed.”

The joint announcement by the DOH, DOT and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) was meant to clarify an earlier advisory released by the DOH recommending people to avoid big crowds and cancel such events.

The three agencies reminded the public to practice good hygiene by washing hands regularly. It also urged those experiencing such symptoms as cough, colds, sore throat and fever to seek medical attention.

“All preventive and precautionary measures have been put in place by the national government to contain the spread of the COVID-19,” the agencies said.

They said guidelines are already in place in hotels and resorts across the country even before a temporary travel ban against travelers from China was imposed. It emphasized that facilities have infrared thermometers and hand sanitizers.

“The safety of the public, especially our tourists and employees in the tourism sector, remains the priority of the Philippine government,” it said.

As of Tuesday, there are more than 70,000 people infected with COVID-19, a new disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus that is believed to have originated from Wuhan city in China. 

There are already more than 1,800 deaths worldwide, mostly in China.

In the Philippines, there were 3 confirmed cases of COVID-19. While one of the Chinese travelers died due to the disease, the other two have already recovered.

Despite the decreasing number of cases in the Philippines, the DOH has repeatedly said it remains vigilant for the possibility of local transmission, as in the case of Singapore and Thailand where locals who do not have travel histories have been infected.