386 pa­tients un­der virus watch cleared


THE Depart­ment of Health (DoH) on Fri­day said 84 per­cent of pa­tients un­der med­i­cal watch for pos­si­ble coronaviru­s dis­ease 2019 (Covid-19) in­fec­tion had been cleared.

As of Fri­day noon, 386 pa­tients of the 455 pa­tients un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion (PUIs) had tested neg­a­tive for the ill­ness, Health As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a brief­ing.

She noted that 191 PUIs were still in hos­pi­tals while 260 had been dis­charged.

Among those dis­charged were two of the three con­firmed Covid- 19 cases re­ported in the Philip­pines — a Chi­nese woman from Wuhan City in China, the epi­cen­ter of the dis­ease out­break and the part­ner of the sole Covid-19 death in the coun­try so far; and 51 peo­ple who were in the same hos­pi­tal, flights and ho­tels as the three con­firmed cases.

The third con­firmed case in the coun­try, a 44-year-old Chi­nese man, was the first fa­tal­ity from the dis­ease out­side China.

The Health depart­ment’s Epi­demi­ol­ogy Bureau re­ported that 255 or 34 per­cent of the 740 per­sons who came in con­tact with Covid-19 car­ri­ers had been reached.

Vergeire said trac­ing the re­main­ing per­sons proved to be a chal­lenge be­cause some of them had given “er­ro­neous and in­com­plete in­for­ma­tion.”

She added that 172 or 67 per­cent of traced con­tacts had been in­ter­viewed, and 93 of them had com­pleted their two-week home quar­an­tine.

Among 172 con­tacts, the 17 who were found to have symp­toms of the re­s­pi­ra­tory virus are now con­sid­ered as PUI cur­rently con­fined in DoHac­cred­ited hos­pi­tals.

Health Sec­re­tary Fran­cisco Duque 3rd on Fri­day said the In­ter-Agency Task Force on Covid-19 was sched­uled to meet to dis­cuss the con­di­tion of Filipinos aboard a cruise ship cor­doned off in Ja­pan.

“I would like to know the pri­vate sec­tor’s role in this be­cause if there is an agency or there is an en­tity that should take care of them, I would like to pro­pose that the re­spon­si­bil­ity, should quar­an­tine be re­quired, be shared with that pri­vate en­tity,” he said, when asked about the pos­si­ble repa­tri­a­tion of more than 500 Filipinos on the Di­a­mondPrince­ss docked in Yoko­hama, Ja­pan.

The Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs has con­firmed that, as of Thurs­day, 112 of Filipino’s and all crew mem­bers of the Di­a­mondPrince­ss had tested pos­i­tive for Covid-2019.

They were taken to var­i­ous hos­pi­tals in Tokyo and were “re­spond­ing well to treat­ment,” the Philip­pine Em­bassy in Tokyo re­ported.

Also on Fri­day, Mala­cañang ex­pressed con­fi­dence that the Philip­pine econ­omy would re­cover from the fallout from Covid-19.

Dur­ing a Palace press brief­ing, Cabi­net Sec­re­tary Karlo Alexei No­grales claimed that the gov­ern­ment was tak­ing a “hands-on ap­proach” and act­ing proac­tively to de­tect and con­tain the virus.

“While Covid-19 is ex­pected to im­pact the global econ­omy, we be­lieve that achiev­ing our 2020 growth tar­get of 6.5 per­cent is pos­si­ble, as the ef­fects are usu­ally short- lived and gen­er­ally af­fect only the first quar­ter,” he said.

Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte him­self has urged Filipinos to travel around the coun­try, as­sur­ing them that “every­thing is safe” amid grow­ing con­cerns over the coronaviru­s out­break.

Duterte pro­moted the coun­try’s tourism af­ter the Depart­ment of Tourism re­ported an es­ti­mated P42.9 bil­lion worth of loss due to the virus out­break.

“To my fel­low Filipinos, I en­cour­age you to travel with me around the Philip­pines. I as­sure you that every­thing is safe in our coun­try, be it an is­sue of health, be it an is­sue of law and or­der, and be it an is­sue of ac­ces­si­bil­ity,” he said.

The Pres­i­dent added that air­lines, ho­tels and re­sorts had agreed to lower their rates so more peo­ple could travel to some of the best places in the coun­try.

The Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion ( DepEd) also as­sured that the wel­fare of the stu­dents would re­main its top pri­or­ity, as the coun­try braces for the pos­si­ble lo­cal trans­mis­sion Covid-19.

Speak­ing be­fore the stu­dents of a pub­lic school in Que­zon City, DepEd Un­der­sec­re­tary Alain Pas­cua said the DepEd Task Force Covid- 19 is “strength­en­ing its mea­sures against the coronaviru­s dis­ease.”

“You are im­por­tant to DepEd. We know that your dreams can­not wait, that is why build­ing your ca­pac­i­ties must con­tinue,” Pas­cua told the stu­dents of Don Ale jan dr oRoc es Sr. Sci­ence-Tech­nol­ogy High School.

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