Experts sent by the Chinese government arrived in the Philippines yesterday to help in the country’s fight against coronavirus, as Philippine authorities weighed extending a month-long lockdown on the main island to stop the spread of the virus.
The Chinese team of anti-epidemic medical experts has had “front-line experience in Hubei province to fight against the epidemic,” said China’s ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian.
The novel coronavirus, which can lead to the potentially deadly Covid-19 respiratory disease, was first detected in the Chinese province late last year.
The experts are in the Philippines to share “invaluable first-hand experiences...on fighting and containing Covid-19,” said Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin, who welcomed them at the airport.
For the next two weeks, they will “observe and give recommendations...to improve our infection prevention and control, critical care and laboratory (operations),” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
The team of Chinese experts also brought additional medical supplies, including surgical masks, medical N95 masks, medical protective suits and face shields, and non-invasive ventilators, Huang said.
The team’s arrival comes as Philippine government officials are scheduled to discuss today whether to extend the lockdown on the island of Luzon, home to more than half of the Philippines’ population, beyond April 14.
“It is better to continue the lockdown until we have flattened the curve, so we will not have any relapse,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano said.
“The community will still be in danger if we relax (the lockdown) early. All our efforts would have been wasted.”
Ano noted that the lockdown appears to have slowed the spread of the virus, but the number of infections has not peaked.
152 NEW CASES
The Department of Health yesterday reported 152 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, bringing the country’s tally to 3,246.
Eight additional deaths were recorded, pushing the death toll to 152, while 64 patients have recovered.
One of those who recovered, 73-year-old Mila Costales, was discharged from a hospital in the northern mountain resort city of Baguio on Friday.
In thanking doctors and nurses who took care of her, Costales said the medical workers never “showed any negative sign” towards her and this contributed to her fast recovery.
“What I can say about this Covid-19, it’s nothing to be scared of,” she said as she held on to pink and purple balloons while sitting in a wheelchair.
The health department said it was boosting the country’s testing capacity to determine the real scale of the outbreak, and with the aim of processing 10,000 specimens daily starting next week.
But even with wider testing, quarantine and isolation measures still need to be implemented in the country, said Eric Tayag, an infectious disease specialist with the health department.
“I wish we could give a hopeful scenario in the next few weeks, but we really have to have our mind set that we are here for the long haul,” he told Manila news channel ANC.
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