The Philippines Copes with Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) with Live Updates

It’s no surprise that the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has become a worldwide health crisis that could potentially be a global pandemic in the making. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as Global Public Health Emergency last January 30, 2020, and has addressed several advisories regarding travel and personal health tips to practice in order to avoid getting infected.

COVID-19 Cases in the Philippines

Some of which include washing hands more often in the day, avoiding people with coughs and colds, wearing masks in closed tight spaces with a sick person close by, and sanitizing as often as possible.

As of March 4th, the Philippines has reportedly confirmed 3 people who have the virus, 1 death, 39 people admitted to hospitals, and 620 discharged and free to go home, according to Rappler. The highest number of people probed with the virus is 225 in the Metro Manila area, followed by Central Luzon with 76, then Central Visayas with 62 probed victims. At least 87 Filipino locals have been confirmed to have caught the bug but are all based outside the country.

Travel Restrictions

The most number of active cases outside of China is South Korea with more than 5,000 active cases in the country and 35 in the death toll, the Department of Tourism together with the Department of Health have insisted on advising the public to avoid unnecessary travel to the country as it has soaring rates of infection in the last few weeks which don’t plan to slow down soon.

A travel ban has been placed for those coming from North Gyeongsang Province (along with Daegu City and Cheongdo County) of South Korea, as well as people who have traveled to the former within two weeks preceding their return to the country.

Those who are studying in South Korea, OFWs and permanent residents of South Korea are exempt from this travel ban but must present the declaration of understanding that manifests their knowledge of the risks upon return.

New Cases Arise

>> 17 March 2020

  • Confirmed cases of COVOD-19 went up to more than 140 cases.
  • The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte implemented the enhanced community quarantine in the whole Luzon region.
  • The militarization of Metro Manila will be heightened, with checkpoints in various entry and exit points into the city.
  • All public mass transportation and private ride-hailing services (i.e. Grab, Angkas, Joyride, etc.) have been suspended until further notice.
  • ABS-CBN News reports that more provinces in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao will be following suit as the lockdown commences in Metro Manila. Precautionary measures will be heightened with including Pampanga, Aurora, among others in Luzon, Davao City in Mindanao, Cebu and Negros Occidental in the Visayas region for 30 days.
  • All domestic and land travel will be suspended, while international travel is given a deadline for foreign nationals and tourists in the Philippines of up to 72 hours until suspension.
  • Philippine Airlines’ domestic flights have suspended operations until April 12th, while international flights will move forward until midnight of March 20th.
  • Only supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, and other necessary service centers will remain open to the public, while private businesses, restaurants, bars, and cafes among other establishments will be shut down.

>>19 March 2020

  • More than 200 active cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, with deaths from COVID-19 having reached more than 15.
  • The Secretary of the DOH, Francisco Duque is placed under home quarantine after being exposed to an infected colleague.
  • Thousands of foreign travelers are forced to leave the Norther Philippines and are given until Friday, March 20th to do so or will be stranded and required to be placed under quarantine.
  • Cebu Pacific declared cancelation of all domestic and international flights until 14 April 2020.
  • Albay province closed its borders yesterday, 18, March 2020
  • Banks and credit card companies have decided to extend payments for 30 days, some of which include Bank of the Philippines Islands, Unionbank, Banco De Oro etc.
  • Local motels and hotels decided to pledge more than 500 rooms for health workers in Manila after its Mayor, Isko Moreno declared the city’s willingness to accommodate health workers.

>> 24 March 2020

  • More than 400 active cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines
  • There are almost 20 deaths out of 307 cases in total
  • Healthcare workers including nurses, doctors, have been quarantined due to increasing symptoms manifesting in hospitals, with more than 600 of them quarantined.
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs announced that the issuance of visas to foreigners will be halted in as a means to contain the coronavirus spreading in the country.

> 26 March 2020

  • Active cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines are up to 553, with a rising death toll of 35
  • President Rodrigo Duterte signs “Bayanihan Heal as One” which grants the president 30 special powers to address the COVID-19. Some of the provisions prioritize the healthcare workers and front-liners dealing with the outbreak. The Act will give 18 million low-income families emergency cash aid, healthcare workers will get a special risk allowance on top of their regular hazard pay to name a few.
  • The DOH reports that around 9,000 people are being monitored, 2,800 people are under investigation of contracting the coronavirus.
  • Senator Koko Pimentel risks the delivery unit at the Makati Medical Center for bringing in his pregnant wife in labor, without knowing he tested positive for COVID-19. The hospital board addressed the Philippine public, condemning the reckless actions of Pimentel and ensured the public the whole delivery unit will be disinfected and contaminated.
  • Cebu is officially placed under enhanced community quarantine. Travelers on international flights headed to and from Cebu will be banned beginning Friday, March 27, at precisely 12:01 AM.

30 March 2020

  • More than 1,400 active cases and 71 deaths in the Philippines
  • The US decided to cancel its annual military exercises with the country.
  • A total of 12 Filipino doctors have passed away in the efforts to serve the Filipino people during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines according to the Philippine Medical Association.
  • The DOH is researching ways to increase the benefits and pay of health workers after consistent risk in the frontliners of the pandemic.
  • More COVID-19 test kits will be arriving in the country, with five sub-national labs now in full operation of the country. These testing labs include Baguio General Hospital, San Lazaro Hospital, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, and the Southern Philippines Medical Center, according to the DOH.

1 Apr 2020

  • The Philippines has reached more than 2,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 88 total deaths.
  • More test kits have been ordered in the efforts to speed up getting test results for suspected cases.
  • DOH launches COVID-19 hotline (1555, 02-894-COVID) for people with symptoms to call.
  • DOLE will give out cash assistance of PHP 5,000 to formal workers which employees will get in addition to their payroll. Informal workers will be asked to work from their households will be paid minimum wage.
  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses the nation and appeals to the private sector to contribute to the national emergency due to a lack of funds. “We have allotted PHP 200 billion for low-income households who are badly affected by this crisis,” Duterte states.
  • The Philippines Medical Association reports 17 frontline doctors have passed away in the effort to serve during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • More private facilities and events have been transformed into quarantine facilities, some of which include churches, universities, stadiums like the Philippine International Convention Center, World Trade Center, Rizal Memorial Coliseum, and the Philippine Sports Complex.

> 3 April 2020

  • There are more than 2,500 confirmed cases and 64 total deaths in the Philippines.
  • Face masks will be required to wear everywhere in Luzon, penalty and fines if found without one in public.
  • The DOH announced they will be covering all treatment costs of those infected with COVID-19 with an initial payment of PHP 1.7 million and PHP 1.8 million. The most PhilHealth will cover is up to PHP 2 Million in treatment for patient whose cases are from mild to critical, which will last until the 14th of April.
  • The city of Manila passed an act stating that the discrimination of people with COVID-19 as well as those healthcare workers exposed to the virus is punishable by law.
  • Mass testing on PUIs and PUMs is expected to start on the 14th of April.

Health First, Always

As more cases continue to develop overnight, the Philippine public is highly advised to avoid unnecessary travel to COVID-19 infected countries. Practicing proper hygiene and hydration are highly advised at this point in time where washing hands regularly and drinking a ton of water are simple ways to combat the alarming state of health in the Philippines.

The global death toll has reached more than 31,198 with 2,981 specifically in China alone and continues to bring countries like Italy and Iran in the next who are gaining more active cases daily. COVID-19 has been declared an international emergency by the WHO and continues to be a health threat in the Philippines.

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