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Schools need to ramp up defense against Wuhan coronavirus

Following the Department of Health’s announcement that the Philippines has its first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Senator Win Gatchalian underscored the need for schools to be more vigilant and ensure that protocols are in place to prevent students from getting the infection.


PASAY CITY, Philippines – Licensed professional teacher hopefuls attend an education summit at the Cuneta Astrodome, 1 Feb. 2020, mostly donning face masks amid growing global concern over an increasing number of infections and fatalities because of 2019-nCoV. Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture chairman Senator Win Gatchalian said schools need to be more vigilant and ensure that hygiene and sanitation protocols are in place to prevent students from getting the infection. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Gatchalian also emphasized that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that the 2019-nCoV outbreak is now a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” which should prompt the Department of Education (DepEd) to work more closely with the Department of Health (DOH) in the implementation of safety guidelines.

“Ngayong may kumpirmadong kaso na ng novel coronavirus sa Pilipinas, mahalagang paigtingin natin ang pangangalaga sa kaligtasan ng mga mag-aaral. Kung may mga mag-aaral tayong nakikitaan ng mga sintomas kaugnay ng virus o history ng pagkakaroon ng respiratory infections, mahalagang handa ang ating mga paaralan, local health officials, at mga magulang sa pag-responde upang maiwasan ang mabilis na pagkalat ng sakit,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

Intensified information dissemination is also more critical in schools at this point, Gatchalian added. According to him, raising awareness on the disease and its prevention should emphasize DOH reminders on proper hygiene and sanitation. These include frequent proper handwashing, cough etiquette, staying away from people with flu-like symptoms, and thorough cooking of food.

Gatchalian maintained that Chinese schools who have not yet suspended classes, especially those with high numbers of students from mainland China, should announce suspensions immediately. According to Gatchalian, this would help contain the virus as most of the confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus are from China.

The country’s first case of the 2019-nCoV is that of a 38-year old Chinese woman who arrived in the Philippines from Wuhan via Hong Kong on January 21. The patient was admitted in one of the country’s government hospitals on January 25 after seeking treatment for a mild cough.

DOH officials also said in interviews that the number of persons under investigation (PUI) on novel coronavirus in the country as of Friday, January 31, has reached 31. One person from China who was under investigation died of pneumonia at the San Lazaro Hospital.