Health-wise, the year 2020 could be considered to be off to a not-so-good or even bad start. Carrying over from December of the previous year, the world now finds itself being assailed by a new type of coronavirus, a contagion that subjects its infected to similar severe respiratory ailments potentially leading to death, similar to the coronaviruses that caused SARS and MERS-Cov. Starting from Wuhan in China, the N-Cov infection has quickly reached multiple countries around the world. Not even the Philippines escaped its spread. And even worse, a possible infected Chinese traveler has been quarantined right here in GenSan, spurring the city council to declare a state of calamity.
The Philippine News Agency has it that this past Tuesday, February 4, the City Council of General Santos has declared a state of calamity as the novel coronavirus begins claiming victims in the country. This resolution was written by City Councilor Francisco Gacal Jr., to prepare GenSan and its residents to somehow prevent N-Cov from taking root in the city beyond one Chinese traveler that was put into quarantine of a patient under investigation. The man, a national of the People’s Republic, is performing the self-quarantine at his own home.
According to reports from the City Health Office, the Chinese national, whose identity has been withheld for privacy, had flown to Wuhan for the Chinese New Year Spring Festival. He returned to GenSan back in January 23, and after being approached by local health officials, has agreed to quarantine himself until his suspected novel coronavirus infection can be confirmed or debunked. Health Office head Dr. Lalaine Alonzo has assured the public that the traveler has taken care not to engage in physical contact since quarantine. This will last for 14 days while health officials observe if he should develop symptoms.
Disregarding the case of the Chinese patient in quarantine, Councilor Gacal notes that the declaration of a state of calamity falls under reasonable responses to the N-Cov health problem because GenSan has direct air routes from Manila and Cebu, both places where Chinese travelers suspected of having gone to Wuhan have passed through. The issue of Generals having gone to those places and back during the coronavirus wave has also been considered. The United Nations World Health Organization has already called the N-Cov outbreak a global health emergency due to its fast spread from China.
With a state of calamity declared, the local government can release from the disaster risk reduction and management fund some P10 million to begin setting up a dedicated isolation facility for possible N-Cov carriers in the city, along with necessary supplies and materials. The fund could also be used to financially support patients for admission to private hospitals in GenSan.
Image courtesy of Inquirer.net