The Department of Health (DoH) on Friday said 84 percent of patients under medical watch for possible coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infection had been cleared.
As of Friday noon, 386 patients of the 455 patients under investigation (PUIs) had tested negative for the illness, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing.
She noted that 191 PUIs were still in hospitals while 260 had been discharged.
Among those discharged were two of the three confirmed Covid-19 cases reported in the Philippines — a Chinese woman from Wuhan City in China, the epicenter of the disease outbreak and the partner of the sole Covid-19 death in the country so far; and 51 people who were in the same hospital, flights and hotels as the three confirmed cases.
The third confirmed case in the country, a 44-year-old Chinese man, was the first fatality from the disease outside China.
The Health department’s Epidemiology Bureau reported that 255 or 34 percent of the 740 persons who came in contact with Covid-19 carriers had been reached.
Vergeire said tracing the remaining persons proved to be a challenge because some of them had given “erroneous and incomplete information.”
She added that 172 or 67 percent of traced contacts had been interviewed, and 93 of them had completed their two-week home quarantine.
Among 172 contacts, the 17 who were found to have symptoms of the respiratory virus are now considered as PUI currently confined in DoH-accredited hospitals.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd on Friday said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Covid-19 was scheduled to meet to discuss the condition of Filipinos aboard a cruise ship cordoned off in Japan.
“I would like to know the private sector’s role in this because if there is an agency or there is an entity that should take care of them, I would like to propose that the responsibility, should quarantine be required, be shared with that private entity,” he said, when asked about the possible repatriation of more than 500 Filipinos on the Diamond Princess docked in Yokohama, Japan.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that, as of Thursday, 112 of Filipino’s and all crew members of the Diamond Princess had tested positive for Covid-2019.
They were taken to various hospitals in Tokyo and were “responding well to treatment,” the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo reported.
Also on Friday, Malacañang expressed confidence that the Philippine economy would recover from the fallout from Covid-19.
During a Palace press briefing, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles claimed that the government was taking a “hands-on approach” and acting proactively to detect and contain the virus.
“While Covid-19 is expected to impact the global economy, we believe that achieving our 2020 growth target of 6.5 percent is possible, as the effects are usually short-lived and generally affect only the first quarter,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself has urged Filipinos to travel around the country, assuring them that “everything is safe” amid growing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.
Duterte promoted the country’s tourism after the Department of Tourism reported an estimated P42.9 billion worth of loss due to the virus outbreak.
“To my fellow Filipinos, I encourage you to travel with me around the Philippines. I assure you that everything is safe in our country, be it an issue of health, be it an issue of law and order, and be it an issue of accessibility,” he said.
The President added that airlines, hotels and resorts had agreed to lower their rates so more people could travel to some of the best places in the country.
The Department of Education (DepEd) also assured that the welfare of the students would remain its top priority, as the country braces for the possible local transmission Covid-19.
Speaking before the students of a public school in Quezon City, DepEd Undersecretary Alain Pascua said the DepEd Task Force Covid-19 is “strengthening its measures against the coronavirus disease.”
“You are important to DepEd. We know that your dreams cannot wait, that is why building your capacities must continue,” Pascua told the students of Don Alejandro Roces Sr. Science-Technology High School.
WITH CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND JAN ARCILLA