FEBRUARY 4, 2020 – President Rodrigo Duterte has allayed public fears on the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 400 people in China, as he called an end to what he perceived as hatred against Chinese nationals in the country.
In a news conference late on Monday, the popular leader said “everything is well” in the Philippines despite the two confirmed cases of 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease involving Chinese tourists.
One of the victims had died in Manila due to severe pneumonia and was the first reported death outside China.
“There is nothing really to be extra scared of that coronavirus thing although it has affected a lot of countries,” Duterte told reporters. “You know one or two in any country is not really that fearsome.”
The president, who has been seeking warmer ties with Beijing, also urged Filipinos to stop the “sinophobia” or sentiments against Chinese nationals.
Duterte also expressed displeasure on the many statements he had seen and read on social media which demanded to send all of them back to China.
“You know it is not only a case of bad taste but it is not good for us Filipinos to be saying that.
“Remember that there are now so many thousands of Filipinos in China. And they cannot go out because coming in or going out of China is prohibited,” Duterte said. “And that is precisely to contain the propagation of the virus.”
Nanindigan si Pangulong Duterte na hindi dapat husgahan ang mga Tsino dahil sa nangyaring novel coronavirus outbreak. pic.twitter.com/YxHr2g7PWk
— News5 AKSYON (@News5AKSYON) February 3, 2020
ON TOP OF SITUATION
The coronavirus outbreak, which was declared as global health emergency by the global health authorities, already killed 425 as of the end of Monday. All of the new reported 64 deaths were in Hubei province, the epicentre of the virus outbreak.
In response to the fast-spreading virus, Duterte has ordered a wider travel ban on China, Hong Kong, and Macau. He said he also directed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to prepare a separate building just in case there is a need to quarantine several persons.
“Wala pa namang — hindi pa kailangan ‘yan pero I said we will prepare,” Duterte said.
Duterte convened a task force meeting four days after the Department of Health announced the first coronavirus case in the country.
Last week, the #OustDuterte trended on Twitter with Filipino netizens lambasting the president and his government’s alleged lack of urgency in addressing the issue.
Despite this, the Presidential Communications Operations Office asserted the meeting was not too late and conducted at the right time. (Karen Macalalad/MM)
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