Local governments ordered to create task force vs 2019 n-CoV

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

DEPARTMENT of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año has ordered all local government units to create their own task force against the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) to prevent the spread of the disease.

In a statement, DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said Año has ordered all local government units to be in a state of preparedness to meet the global health emergency posed by the 2019-nCoV.

“All LGUs nationwide are advised to create their respective task forces to implement DOH protocols and guidelines and extend full cooperation to the DOH and other government agencies to meet the world health emergency,” Malaya said.

He said the provincial governor or the city or town mayor should lead the task force.

Malaya said the task force should ensure that local health workers have the necessary equipment such as masks, goggles and gloves as well as knowledge on how to prevent the disease.

He said local health authorities should also be informed of the proper way of handling a patient suspected of having contracted the pneumonia-causing virus.

He said local government units should coordinate with the Department of Health as well as the local police in locating people suspected of being carriers.

Malaya also reminded local executives in areas with international airports to coordinate with the Bureau of Immigration and airport officials as regards flights coming from affected countries in order to ensure that quarantine measures will be implemented.

On Thursday, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III confirmed that a 38-year-old female who arrived in the country on January 21 from Wuhan, China, had contracted the virus, the first case 2019 n-Cov in the country.

The health department reminded the public to practice good personal hygiene and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

For its part, the PNP ordered all its units to be on “high readiness mode” and should be in close coordination with the Health department to determine the assistance they can provide to curb the spread of the disease.

“Will always be dependent on the disposition of the DOH... The PNP will always abide, tutulong kami dalhin ang affected sa quarantine but we have to follow certain procedures and protocols,” PNP Chief Archie Gamboa said on Friday.

He said the DOH will lead a Cabinet cluster meeting on Friday in Manila with the DILG, PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to thresh out action plans against the virus.

The PNP has already alerted its health service units, the PNP Maritime Group and the Aviation Security Group to establish a direct line of communication with the DOH for lateral implementation of public health measures.

Gamboa said the PNP may also mobilize its Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives unit to assist the DOH.

“Meron kasi kami CBRNE unit specialized for chemical warfare pero pwede namin gamitin kasi protected din sila so that hindi sila mahahawa kapag gagalaw sila. They are protected, they have equipment,” he said.

Gamboa said he is encouraging all policemen to always wear face masks.

Gamboa said he will also issue a directive for crowd control and traffic management assistance amid the panic buying of face masks.

At the PNP-Anti-kidnapping Group office in Camp Crame, officials have required all visitors to wear masks.

“Dito sa AKG lahat ng mga bumibisita kahit na foreigner or Pilipino dumadaan sa aming scanner na magde-determine kung may lagnat ang isang tao o wala pag merong lagnat dadalhin sa ospital ng Crame kung walang lagnat dapat mag-undergo ng sanitation (alcohol) at bibigyan ng mask to make sure safe ang pagpasok sa aming compound until such time na lumabas ka ulit,” AKG spokesperson Major Rannie Lumactod said.

He said they took into consideration the fact that most of the AKG’s detainees and their visitors are Chinese nationals.

The 2019-nCoV originated from Wuhan City in China. (SunStar Philippines)