Duterte appeals for calm, vigilance amid coronavirus scare

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 13) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday assured the public there is no need to panic following the worldwide spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) because the government is on top of the situation.

In a taped message posted on social media, Duterte said the threat is present, but there is no need to worry because no Filipinos have been infected by the deadly virus despite the three confirmed cases in the country.

"I call on our people to remain calm, vigilant, responsible and I also ask for your trust and cooperation, support as we face the challenge. Tayo ay magkaisa together as one nation, this challenge can be overcome," he said.

The President said he understands why people feel anxious amid the rising threat. Earlier this month, he said not to be "extra-scared of that coronavirus thing."

He also said there is no evidence yet of human-to-human transmission in the country. However, he said they are preparing for the worst. Health spokesperson Eric Domingo said authorities are bracing for the possibility of local transmission after 59 people who came in contact with the three cases are showing flu-like symptoms.

"The government, together with the World Health Organization, medical societies and partners in private sectors, is addressing the challenge and preparing for any eventuality," the President said.

Duterte also assured overseas Filipino workers in virus-hit China that the national government is working to bring them home.

He also advised the public to be more careful where they obtain information on the dreaded virus that has killed over a thousand in a span of two months.

"Huwag makinig diyan sa mga haka-haka. Sa gobyerno kayo nakatutok. Nandiyan ang totoo sa gobyerno, wala diyan sa mga taong haka-haka na wala namang ginawa kung hindi manakot sa kapwa niya tao," he said.

The President also reminded the public to practice proper handwashing and wearing of surgical masks when necessary.

Over 230 are currently admitted to various hospitals and classified as “patients under investigation" or PUIs — those who exhibit signs of the new viral infection as well as had history of travel to China or contact with confirmed cases. DOH said 208 of the 408 people under watch for possible infection have already tested negative for COVID-19.