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Manila — Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said on Friday, January 31, that the Duterte Administration takes the threat of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease (2019-nCoV ARD) outbreak seriously and that President Rodrigo Duterte is in constant communication with key officials who are currently assessing the country’s situation and readiness as far as the outbreak is concerned.

“We will do what is needed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Rest assured that the Duterte Administration takes this threat seriously. I am appealing to the public to cooperate with authorities in order to ensure the safety of everyone,” Go said.

Go also said that the government is ready to deploy aircrafts to ensure the safe return of Filipinos in Wuhan, China who have signified their intention to go home amid the 2019-nCoV ARD outbreak.

In a radio interview, Go said that the government will exhaust all its efforts to ensure the safety of at least 40 Filipinos currently in Wuhan who have volunteered to return to the country once the Chinese government gives its go signal to Philippine authorities.

“So far, 40 have signified gusto na umuwi subalit syempre ‘yung bansang China po ang may hawak sa kanila ngayon. Kung pwede na lumabas, the government is ready at handa na silang sunduin… We can send aircrafts, handa pong tumulong ang gobyerno,” he said.

Go also mentioned that the Philippine government could start their repatriation next week once given permission by the Chinese government.

The Senator emphasized that the priority of the Duterte Administration is the safety of all Filipinos, here and abroad. The government is committed to secure Filipinos who are at risk in areas affected by the virus, but at the same time, ensure that those in the country will not be put at risk.

“Dadaan po sila sa 14-day quarantine period and we will impose necessary measures to ensure na hindi kumalat sa bansa natin ang Coronavirus,” he explained.

“Interes po ng bawat Pilipino palagi ang mangunguna, kapakanan po ninyo lalung-lalo na po ‘yung kalusugan ninyo ang ating main concern,” he added.

Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, said that the government has already put up measures to prevent the spread of 2019-nCoV ARD even prior to the Department of Health (DOH) confirming the first case in the Philippines.

The Senator added that he has suggested to President Duterte the temporary travel ban on travelers from Wuhan City and even the entire Hubei Province as a safety precaution against the spread of the virus in the country.

“Nagkausap kami ni Pangulong Duterte para proteksyunan ang ating mga kababayan sa pagkalat ng virus at sumang-ayon naman si Pangulo na iimplementa kaagad ang temporary travel ban sa mga manggagaling sa Wuhan City at entire Hubei,” he said.

Additionally, Go said that he has also suggested and is currently studying the possibility of imposing a temporary ban on travelers from other affected areas with confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV ARD.

“We are not discounting the possibility of temporarily banning the travel of those from other areas also affected by the coronavirus,” he said.

Upon the recommendation of DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, the President has earlier issued a travel ban to Chinese nationals and all travelers coming from the Hubei province of China where the novel coronavirus originated, as well in other places in China where there is a spread of the disease, as officially confirmed by the Chinese government.

“This travel ban should last until there is no more threat to the health and welfare of our people. I support this and other necessary measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country,” Go said.

Go is also recommending, as a precautionary measure, the implementation of a 14-day quarantine period to all those traveling from other parts of China not covered yet by the temporary travel ban while authorities are still studying the possibility of imposing a temporary travel ban to all passengers coming from China, if necessary.

Go added that a Senate hearing will be conducted on Tuesday next week to discuss and lay down necessary measures to protect Filipinos from the 2019-nCoV ARD. Concerned government officials and health experts on infectious diseases are invited to discuss the matter.

“Nakatutok po ako dito, ngayon kung kailangan batikusin ang kapwa ko kasamahan noon gagawin ko yan para po sa ating mga kababayan basta importante po dito unahin po nila ang kapakanan ng bawat Filipino,” he said.

Meanwhile, in an ambush interview during the launch of the country’s 61st Malasakit Center at the Mayor Hilario A. Ramiro Sr. Medical Center, Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental, Go urged Filipinos not to panic and refrain from sharing fake news.

“Kung ako lang ang masusunod, i-ban na talaga natin kasi natatakot na ang mga tao, but we must be vigilant. Magtulungan lang tayo. Hindi tayo dapat mag-panic at hindi tayo dapat magsiraan. Huwag tayong mag-spread ng fake news,” Go said referring to suggestions calling for a travel ban for all travelers coming from China.

He added that the welfare of the Filipino people remains his top priority, saying “huwag lang pong kumalat ang virus. Kalusugan ng bawat Pilipino ang aming uunahin dito. Ako, bilang chair ng Senate Committee on Health, nakatutok ako diyan.”

Go also reminded his colleagues in government, especially his fellow Senators, to put the interest of all Filipinos first and not resort to blaming authorities which may just cause more confusion and panic.

“Nakikiusap din ako sa ating mga kasamahan sa Senado na huwag naman po sana natin gamitin ang trahedya na ito para sa personal na pamumulitika. Maski anong partido natin, Pilipino pa din naman tayo lahat, diba? Hindi po ito ang panahon para sa ganitong mga hirit na hindi naman nakakatulong, at lalo lang nakakagulo sa ating mga kababayan,” Go said referring to a statement of another senator saying that travelers from China should go straight to Malacañang if a travel ban is not heeded.

“Hindi nakakatulong ang pag-spread ng fake news. Hindi rin nakakatulong ang pagsakay sa pulitika dahil hindi ito ang panahon para sa pamumulitika. Unahin natin ang kapakanan at kalusugan ng bawat Pilipino,” he added.

Stay updated with news and information from the Office of Senator Bong Go by visiting their website at http://kuyabonggo.ph.

Balikbayan Media Center
Balikbayan Media Center

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