Solon calls for heightened measures vs. new SARS-like virus

MANILA — Senator Imee Marcos on Tuesday urged concerned authorities to implement preventive measures as the country faces increased risk of catching a new strain of the pneumonia-causing virus that is slowly spreading in China, where it was initially discovered.

She said heightened preventive measures in the country’s international airports and seaports will minimize the risk of spreading the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-like virus, particularly in Manila, Kalibo, Cebu and Davao which have direct travel links with China.

Dapat maging alerto at magpatupad ng precautionary measure ang Department of Health (DOH), Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) at iba pang ahensya ng gobyerno para di makalusot ang coronavirus na maaaring manggaling sa China, Thailand, o Japan (The DOH, MIAA, and other concerned government agencies must be on alert and implement precautionary measures so that the new strain of Coronavirus, which could come from China, Thailand, or Japan, would not enter the country)”, Marcos said in a statement.

Besides health scans and ports of entry, Marcos said standard operating procedures for a possible quarantine of infected persons should be put in place by the concerned agencies just in case the World Health Organization (WHO) announces an epidemic.

She also urged authorities to imposed strict immigration procedures on Chinese nationals working for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

“Lax immigration procedures for POGOs also increases the country’s health risk to the virus,” Marcos said.

The new coronavirus strain, first discovered in the central city of Wuhan, has caused alarm because of its connection to SARS, which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

So far, more than 200 cases of infection have been recorded in the mainland, with a few cases detected in Thailand and Japan. Chinese health authorities have already reported four deaths caused by the virus.  Jose Cielito Reganit /PNA –