‘Treat it as a disaster’: Solon wants NDRRMC action in PH campaign vs. coronavirus

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 28)— A lawmaker on Tuesday proposed a wider and disaster-based approach that would help refine the Philippines’ campaign against the novel coronavirus.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said the government should treat the illness’ outbreak as a “disaster”, adding that concerned agencies can tap the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) as well as local government units to intensify the drive against the virus.

“Use the NDRRMC. Basically kasi it's a whole of government approach, it's a whole of society approach— it's not just DOH (Department of Health),” Salceda said in an interview with The Source.

Kasi noong nagkaroon ng MERS CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome-coronavirus) at tsaka noong SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome), I was governor. Ang approach namin ay use the PDRRMC methodology - as if it was a disaster. And therefore we have to institute precautionary measures,” he added.

[Translation: When the MERS CoV and SARS surfaced, I was governor (of Albay). Our approach was to use the PDRRMC methodology - as if it was a disaster. And therefore we have to institute precautionary measures.]

Salceda said the approach does not aim to instill panic among Filipinos, but will rather ensure a more “systematic, orderly, and science-based” campaign against the virus, which has left over 100 people in China dead in its wake.

He noted an LGU-centralized campaign can help communities better understand— and guard themselves from— the virus.

“IEC (Information Education Communication) dapat. Lalong lalo sa local government. Dapat hindi lang DOH ang talking head, dapat naka-cascade po 'yan sa local. Kasi they are responsible officers for their community,” Salceda said.

[Translation: Information, Education, Communication—especially in the local government. DOH shouldn’t be the only one talking, it should also be cascaded to the local. Because they are responsible officers for their community.]

The outbreak of the coronavirus— which has spread to other regions including the United States and Europe—has prompted several international governments and airports to impose stricter security and monitoring measures.

The Philippines remains free of the coronavirus, with no confirmed cases listed, the Health Department stressed Monday. However, authorities said they are monitoring 14 people who showed symptoms of possible infection.

Some patients tagged “under investigation” have already tested negative for the coronavirus, health officials clarified.