Duterte agrees to declare public health emergency due to COVID-19

President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to the recommendation of the Department of Health (DOH) to declare a State of Public Health Emergency amid the continuing spread of COVID-19 in the country, Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo confirmed in a statement on Saturday.

“The said proposal has been raised to the attention of the President who has agreed to issue such declaration after considering all critical factors with the aim of safeguarding the health of the Filipino public,” the statement reads.

Malacañang’s response came after the DOH raised the COVID-19 alert system to Code Red sublevel 1 following the confirmation of a 6th positive case and the country’s first local transmission.

The previously-reported 5th case of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) — a 62-year-old patient who has severe pneumonia — is the first case of local transmission in the country after verification with the Bureau of Immigration showed that the patient had no recent travel history, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III announced at a press briefing.

He also confirmed that the 6th COVID-19 case is the patient’s wife, a 59-year-old female who presented with cough and was admitted at the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) on March 5. The patient is currently in stable condition.

“The DOH is currently exhausting all its efforts to identify others who may have come in contact with the confirmed cases to ensure that this localized transmission does not progress to community spread,” Duque said.

He added that the declaration of a State of Public Health Emergency “will facilitate mobilization of resources, ease processes, including procurement of critical logistics and supplies, and intensified reporting.”

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