Duterte to declare public health emergency amid coronavirus outbreak - Bong Go

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 7) – President Rodrigo Duterte will declare a state of public health emergency as the Department of Health confirmed the coronavirus disease could be spreading within local communities and reported the sixth infection case in the country, Senator Christopher "Bong" Go disclosed on Saturday.

This announcement came shortly after the Department of Health and Go, who is also Senate Committee on Health and Demography chairman, said they have recommended the declaration of a public health emergency, amid the threat of local transmission, which Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said could trigger work and class suspensions.

Duque said in a briefing on Saturday that the official declaration could be made by President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday: “We are looking at Monday for the release or issuance of document that will say the President has approved our recommendation.

Under Republic Act 11332, a public health emergency refers to an “occurrence of an imminent threat of an illness or health condition which could pose a high probability of a large number of deaths…widespread exposure to an infectious agent.”

Under the law, unauthorized disclosure of private and confidential information of patient’s medical condition or treatment is prohibited unless legal order by a court compels the institutions to do so.

The top health official said this will allow for an easier access to financial resources which will be used to control the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Earlier this week, Duque said they are still awaiting for the passage of the measures seeking to give DOH an over P2 billion in supplemental funding which will be utilized to purchase surgical masks and personal protective equipment for health workers in the frontlines battling the viral disease.

The House of Representatives committee on appropriations has yet to approve the bills as there is an ongoing power struggle among the lawmakers in the lower chamber.

Duque also said the declaration “is a signal to all concerned agencies, local government units and healthcare providers to be ready to implement planned response measures.”

The DOH confirmed on Saturday that the Philippines’ 5th case of COVID-19 is the first case of local transmission in the country. He is a 62-year-old Filipino male who is in critical condition at Research Institute of Tropical Medicine due to various illnesses. He lives in Cainta, Rizal province. The second case of local transmission is his 59-year-old wife.

READ: Coronavirus patient from Cainta, Rizal in 'critical condition'

The total number of people who got afflicted of the viral infection in the Philippines is now at six.