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Prez Duterte orders govt agencies to be transparent to Filipinos amid COVID-19 scare

FILE PHOTO: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his fourth State of the Nation Address at the Philippine Congress in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

Malacañang on Saturday urged the public to stay calm and refuse on spreading unverified pieces of information amid the increasing cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Philippines.

In a statement, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo assured Filipinos that the Department of Health (DOH) is doing its best to continuously monitor the cases of the deadly virus in the country.

“We call on everyone to be the voice of calm and sobriety. The DOH, which has been following established international protocols, continues to monitor persons under investigation. Teams have been formed to do contact tracing. The Health Department, along with other agencies of the government, likewise provides our people with the latest updates relative to the impact of this global health scare,” Panelo stated.

Panelo also asked the public “to be scrupulous in reading informative materials and not to share unverified and unofficial information that may only cause undue panic among the population.”

On Friday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III confirmed two new cases of coronavirus disease in the country, with one contracted from local transmission, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to five.

One was a 48-year-old Filipino male with a travel history from Japan and the other, a 62-year-old Filipino male in San Juan City with no travel history abroad but has frequently visited a Muslim prayer hall and has hypertension and diabetes.

READ: Philippines confirms two new coronavirus cases; one contracted from local transmission

President Rodrigo Duterte also ordered the government agencies to be “absolutely transparent to the Filipino people.”

“At the very outset of the surge of news reports concerning COVID-19, the President has categorically mandated relevant instrumentalities of the government to be absolutely transparent to the Filipino people as regards this health issue, aware that we have the right to be informed of the conditions surrounding us. Local transmission, if and when it happens in the country, would thus be unequivocally reported to the people,” Panelo added.

Panelo said the Office of the President has received news of foreign nationals who purportedly contracted COVID-19 in the Philippines.

However, DOH denied reports that the two foreign nationals — Japanese and Taiwanese — who tested positive from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after traveling to the Philippines and said they most likely contracted the virus from other countries.

READ: DOH: Foreigners who tested positive for COVID-19 after travel to PH possibly contracted virus from other countries

“The Office of the President finally wishes to remind the people to practice protective measures to guard themselves against COVID-19, such as frequent and proper hand-washing, observing proper cough etiquette and maintaining distance from individuals experiencing respiratory symptoms, among others. By performing these safeguards, we likewise do our share in our community’s fight against this disease,” he said.

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