Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the Department of Education (DepEd) to put schools on alert and ensure that preventive measures are in place to protect students from a new coronavirus strain that has already struck 222 individuals across neighboring China, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.
The lawmaker underscored the need for safety measures following an announcement by the Department of Health (DOH), which revealed a suspected case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in a five-year old boy who flew in from Wuhan, China to Cebu City. The child is currently stable but has shown flu-like symptoms such as cough, throat irritation, and fever. The 2019-nCoV was first detected in Wuhan City on December 31, 2019 and it spreads from humans to humans.
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that result in a range of illnesses from the common cold to more severe diseases, including the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus (SARS-CoV).
The 5-year old boy, at first, tested negative for MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. However, he tested positive for an unidentified coronavirus. A specimen from the child is sent to Australia to identify the coronavirus strain.
While there are no confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV in the Philippines to date, Gatchalian said schools should exhaust all measures from information dissemination to intensified sanitary measures to keep students safe, as well as school employees and workers.
“Sa ating pangambang makapasok itong bagong coronavirus sa ating bansa, mabuti nang maging sigurado tayo dahil ang isang kumpirmadong kaso ay maaaring maikalat sa iba,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
Gatchalian added that schools should have protocols in place if they identify students displaying flu-like symptoms. He also said schools should emphasize preventive measures and practice good hygiene such as frequent handwashing, observance of cough etiquette, distancing one’s self from people with respiratory problems, and proper cooking of food, to name a few.