World Newsletter

PHILIPPINES NEWS
4 February 2020

'EVERYTHING IS WELL': DUTERTE ASSURES NATION ON NOVEL CORONAVIRUS RISK

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte assured the Philippines late Monday night
that the two confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus—one of whom died over
the weekend—are nothing to be alarmed about.
Speaking to media after a meeting with top officials over the 2019-nCoV
outbreak, Duterte stressed that the two cases had arrived in the Philippines
from China and are not cases of local transmission.
"Everything is well in the country. There's nothing really to be extra
scared of that coronavirus thing. Although it has affected a lot of
countries, but you know, one or two in any country is not really that
fearsome," he said.
"In the Philippines, we only have two cases... two reported deaths but they
were Chinese... imported, hindi galing dito. It was not a native of the
Philippines but rather it was an imported one," he said, referring to the
two travelers who are from Wuhan in China but arrived from Hong Kong on
January 21.
The first confirmed case was a 38-year-old woman who had flown to Cebu and
Dumaguete before being admitted to a hospital in Manila on January 25. The
second case, a 44-year-old man, has been described as her partner or
boyfriend.
He died on Saturday, the Department of Health and World Health Organization
announced on Sunday.
Duterte also spoke out against calls to bar all Chinese people from the
Philippines.
"You know, it is not only a case of bad taste but it is not good for us
Filipinos to be saying that. Remember, there are now so many thousands of
Filipinos in China and they cannot go out because coming in or going out of
China is prohibited."


'CHINA HAS BEEN KIND TO US': DUTERTE SAYS STOP BLAMING CHINESE FOR 2019-NCOV
SPREAD

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday told Filipinos to stop blaming
the Chinese people for the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
Speaking to reporters after an emergency meeting with Cabinet officials and
the World Health Organization (WHO) representative, Duterte said hating the
Chinese would not be beneficial for the country especially since there are
also a lot of Filipinos in China.
"And this kind of mentioning the Chinese and blaming them, it’s like a
xenophobia. You hate anything that is Chinese. It is not good," he said.
"One is that we have many Filipinos in China. Second is even if there are
none, you know, we are a community of nations. We cooperate. China has been
kind to us. We can only also show the same favor to them, Duterte added.
For Duterte, the spread of the virus is no one's fault, as it could have
started anywhere in the world.
"Stop this xenophobia thing about… Kasi ang gusto mong masabi nila na ‘yung
--- ito ngayon they are blaming the Chinese na galing sa China. It can
always… How would you call this? Incubate in some other places," he said.
"It happened in China on --- at least the first, ‘yun lang. But that is not
the fault of anybody. Not of the Chinese, not of the Filipinos, not of
anyone," Duterte added.


GOV'T SEEKS POLITICAL CEASEFIRE AS PH SEEKS TO CONTAIN CHINA VIRUS SPREAD

MANILA - Malacañang on Monday appealed for a halt on politicking as the
Philippines ramped up efforts to prevent the spread of the 2019 novel
coronavirus.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar made the request a day after Manila
confirmed its first coronavirus-related death, saying there are government
critics who supposedly want to "hijack" the public health crisis and turn it
into a political issue.
"Let us set aside our individual differences as we ask a moratorium to
people who want to hijack this situation and reduce it to mere politicking
because lives are at stake," he said during a Palace press briefing.


DUTERTE ALLAYS FEARS OVER 2019-NCOV OUTBREAK

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday sought to allay fears over the outbreak
of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has spread from China, killing
over 300 people and infecting several thousand others.
"Everything is well in the country. There's nothing really to be
extra-scared of that coronavirus thing," Duterte said in a televised news
conference from Malacanang following an emergency meeting with key members
of his Cabinet and the World Health Organization (WHO) representative in the
country.
The Philippines has reported two confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV acute
respiratory disease, involving two Chinese tourists who came from the
Chinese city of Wuhan where the virus originated. One of the patients died
on Saturday.
Health officials said Monday it has probed 80 people so far for possible
contraction of the 2019-nCoV ARD, although only two have yielded positive
results. Thirty tested negative, while the results for the remaining 48 are
still pending.
Duterte said there is no need for the public to be hysterical, as it did
when initial reports of the new coronavirus were coming out, saying people
can go to the hospital and get treatment.
He said he himself is not even scared to shake hands with people.
The President said similar to the previous spread of HIV and SARS-CoV, the
current problem will also just "die a natural death" even as he acknowledged
efforts to reach a solution for it.
"But it would… Kagaya ng SARS, I assure you even without the vaccines it
will just die a natural death. Apparently itong mga ganito, mga virus, ano
‘to HIV. Wala --- nawala na. Meron, kokonti na lang," Duterte said.


CHINA ADMITS 'SHORTCOMINGS' IN VIRUS RESPONSE

BEIJING — China's top leadership on Monday admitted "shortcomings and
difficulties" in its response to the coronavirus outbreak, as state media
said a new hospital built at breakneck pace began receiving patients in the
epicenter of the crisis.
Fifty-seven new deaths were confirmed on Monday -- the single-biggest daily
increase since the virus was detected late last year in the central city of
Wuhan.
The government in Beijing nevertheless hit out at the United States for
sparking "panic" with its response to the coronavirus, including a ban on
foreigners who have recently been to China.
China's elite Politburo Standing Committee called for improvements to the
"national emergency management system" following "shortcoming and
difficulties exposed in the response to the epidemic," according to the
official Xinhua news agency.
"It is necessary to strengthen market supervision, resolutely ban and
severely crack down on illegal wildlife markets and trade," it added.
The government also said it "urgently" needed medical equipment and surgical
masks, protective suits, and safety goggles as it battles to control the
outbreak.
Authorities in provinces that are home to more than 300 million people --
including Guangdong, the country's most populous in south China -- have
ordered everyone to wear masks in public.
But factories capable of producing around 20 million masks a day are only
operating at 60-70 percent of capacity, industry department spokesman Tian
Yulong said, adding that supply and demand remained in "tight equilibrium"
as a result of the Lunar New Year break.
Tian said authorities were taking steps to bring in masks from Europe, Japan
and the United States, while the foreign ministry said countries including
South Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan and Hungary had donated medical supplies.


STRANDED CHINESE NATIONALS RETURN TO GUANGZHOU

MANILA — Chinese nationals stranded at the Ninoy Aquino International
Airport (NAIA) were finally able to return to their country early yesterday
on a China Southern Airlines return flight to Guangzhou, after Philippine
Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific and Air Asia Zest canceled their flights to and
from China, Hong Kong and Macau due to the 2019 novel coronavirus acute
respiratory disease (nCoV ARD).
The China Southern Airlines flight CZ 3091 that used an Airbus 787 aircraft
arrived at NAIA Terminal 1 around 10:30 a.m. with Filipino passengers and to
pick up the Chinese passengers who were stranded due to flight cancelations.
Cebu Pacific Chinese passengers were brought to NAIA 1 to board flight CZ
3092 back to Guangzhou.
Some 300 Chinese nationals were stranded at NAIA because most of the
airlines have canceled their flights to and from the different parts of
China, Bureau of Immigration (BI) spokesperson Dana Sandoval said at press
briefing in Malacañang yesterday.
Sandoval later clarified that the figure also included Chinese nationals in
other parts of the country who wanted to go home.
Thousands of incoming passengers, mostly Chinese and several French, Dutch,
Canadian and other foreign nationals, were not allowed to enter the country
after Malacañang on Sunday issued a directive preventing foreign passengers
who arrived from China, Hong Kong and Macau from entering the country amid
the outbreak of the nCoV.
PAL and Cebu Pacific flights to and from mainland China (Beijing, Shanghai,
Xiamen, Guangzhou and Shenzhen) remain canceled until March 29.
All foreign nationals, except those with valid Permanent Resident Visas to
the Philippines, who have visited mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau 14
days before traveling to the Philippines will not be allowed to check in for
their flights.


PHILIPPINES TO WAIT FOR PROOF THAI 'DRUG COCKTAIL' EFFECTIVE VS CORONAVIRUS:
DOH

MANILA - The Philippines will wait for further research on a combination of
medications for flu and HIV that supposedly treated cases of coronavirus in
Thailand, Manila's health minister said Tuesday.
A mixture of anti-HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir plus large doses of flu
drug oseltamivir supposedly improved the condition of several novel
coronavirus patients, including a 71-year-old woman, under the care of
Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok, its doctors said.
The treatment lacks scientific basis and is only backed by anecdotal
evidence so far, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said, quoting the
World Health Organization.
Duque said he was also uncertain if the so-called "drug cocktail" was
applied to "mild" coronavirus cases in which patients get better on their
own, or "severe" cases, about 2 percent of which lead to death.
"Kailangan pa natin ng further advisories kasi mahirap din naman baka may
mangyari sa paggamit mo ng gamot, magiging pananagutan pa natin, kukumplika
lang lalo ang sitwasyon," he told DZMM.
"Maigi na iyong maghintay-hintay tayo. Kung may patunay itong cocktail na
ito ay talagang epektibo, mabisa, ba't hindi naman natin gagamitin," he
added.
The coronavirus outbreak that emerged from China has killed more than 425,
including a 44-year-old Chinese man who arrived in Manila in January.
The fatality from the Chinese central city of Wuhan, the outbreak's
epicenter, showed "signs of improvement" before his health deteriorated,
said Duque.
"Sa China, ganoon din e. Maraming kaso na mabilis ang kanilang downturn,
nagdi-deteriorate ang kaso nila," he said.
The Philippines is checking another confirmed coronavirus patient: a
38-year-old woman from Wuhan, as well as 80 possible cases of the disease,
he said.


DOH HAD 'GAPS' IN COMMUNICATING INFO ON NEW CORONAVIRUS: EX-HEALTH CHIEF

MANILA - The Philippines has a "strong health system" but had "gaps" in
relaying information to the public about the new coronavirus, a former
health secretary said Tuesday.
The country is equipped "infrastructure-wise" to handle the new strain of
virus but communicating information about it was a problem, according to
Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin.
"Yes we are prepared, we have the technical capability but the button to
push that somehow came late," she told ANC's Early Edition.
"There were gaps in conveying the information, especially on laymanizing it
and the number of people that were tasked to help."
There should be a minimum of 3 to 5 spokespersons assigned to answer
questions from the regions, Garin said.
The Department of Health should also "immediately refute" misinformation on
social media, she added.
Several schools in Manila had earlier suspended classes following a false
report of an alleged novel coronavirus case in Binondo, Manila.


TAAL FISHERS SEEK WINDOW HOURS TO HARVEST, FEED FISH

MANILA — Fishermen in Taal Lake are appealing to the government to give them
“window hours” to feed and harvest fish as well as repair their fish pens.
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary William Dar and Batangas Gov.
Hermilando Mandanas, the 3,000 members of the Taal Lake Aquaculture Alliance
Inc. (TLAAI) said 70 percent of their fish cages are intact despite Taal
Volcano’s activity.
TLAAI said BFAR and Coast Guard personnel should assist in the
implementation of the window hours.
“Half of the surviving cages still have healthy living fish, but they need
to be fed... to maximize quality and value. We also need to repair our cages
and start recovering and rebuilding whatever is left of our livelihood. It
is our only chance to recover and sustain our 12,000 workers and their
families,” the group said.


SAN JUAN BREAKS GROUND FOR P1 BILLION SOCIALIZED HOUSING

MANILA — At least 500 families will benefit from the second P1.03-billion
socialized housing project in San Juan City that broke ground yesterday,
Mayor Francis Zamora said.
With the first 22-story residential building that started last year, Zamora
said the city government would be able to provide homes to around 1,000
families.
The housing project will rise along F. Manalo street in Barangay Batis.
The building will have 540 residential units in a 2,577-square meter
property with an average size of 29 square meters per unit. The first
building is expected to house 296 families.
“So in no time, we would be able to provide shelter to almost 1,000
families,” Zamora said during the groundbreaking rites.
He assured the public that no cost would be incurred by the local
government, which has a P1-billion debt left by the previous administration.
Informal settlers and low-income families will benefit from the housing
project, according to the mayor.
There are around 6,000 informal settler families in San Juan.
“The previous administration relocated families in far-flung areas. It’s
difficult for those who work in Metro Manila to travel four to five hours
daily,” Zamora said.
He said the beneficiaries would have decent housing, which they can own
after 25 years.
“The units are rent-to-own. What they paid in 25 years would be considered
as partial payment,” he said.
The local government opted to build vertical housing buildings due to the
lack of vacant lots in the city.
Luz Evangelista, officer-in-charge of the National Housing Authority
National Capital Region, said the program prompted other local government
units to follow San Juan’s housing project.
The project – a modern, condominium-type building – is a complete housing
package with water and electric facilities, a basketball court, a
multi-purpose room and 14 commercial units.


JOLO FIRE LEAVES AT LEAST 2,000 FAMILIES HOMELESS

COTABATO CITY — At least 2,000 families in Jolo have been displaced by a big
fire that hit seaside communities in the capital of Sulu province on Monday.
Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim
said the regional government will help the Sulu provincial government attend
to the needs of the fire victims.
The regional government will distribute an initial 3,000 food packs to those
affected by the fire, BARMM's executive secretary, Abdulraof Macacua, also
concurrent Bangsamoro natural resources minister, said Tuesday.
BARMM's emergency and calamity response unit will lead the relief operations
with the help of the police and the military's Western Mindanao Command.
The Bureau of Fire Protection-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region is still
investigating what started the fire that razed thousands of small houses in
Tulay, Chinese Pier and Takut-Takut—three of the eight barangays in the
capital town.
Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, Bangsamoro local government minister, said Tuesday
the regional government will focus attention on the plight of the residents
displaced by the incident in support of the relief efforts of the Sulu
provincial risk reduction and management council under the office of Gov.
Sakur Tan.
The fire reportedly started about in Barangay Tulay about 9:30 a.m. on
Monday and quickly spread through houses made mostly of wood.


PNP EYES LOCKDOWN OF TRAINING CAMPS

MANILA — The Philippine National Police is considering a temporary lockdown
of its training schools to protect PNP personnel and cadets amid the threat
of the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (nCoV ARD), an
official said yesterday.
Among the training camps that could be closed to visitors are the Philippine
National Police Academy (PNPA) in Silang, Cavite and National Police
Training Institute (NPTI) in Calamba City, Laguna.
“We are seriously considering a temporary lockdown of the PNPA, NPTI and
other regional training facilities to ensure the safety of cadets and
trainees,” PNP chief Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa told reporters at Camp
Crame in Quezon City.
Gamboa said there is no specific timetable when the police training camps
would be closed, adding they are still consulting with the Department of
Health.
“We will do it but only after a careful study,” he said.
The PNP headquarters at Camp Crame and other police camps will remain open
to the public, according to Gamboa.
He urged police officers to take precautionary measures against the viral
disease.
Police commanders were also given the discretion to allot funding for face
masks for their personnel.

ELLEN ADARNA STEPS OUT TO WATCH LANY IN CEBU

MANILA – More than two years after her showbiz hiatus, Ellen Adarna is
slowly becoming more visible in public events.
The actress watched the American band LANY at the Plus63 Music and Arts
Festival, which was held last Sunday at SM Seaside City in her hometown of
Cebu.
On Monday, she took to Instagram to express her love for LANY as she shared
photos from the festival.
“ILYSB, LANY,” she said.
Last week, Adarna sparked rumors of a new romance after posting photos of
her appearing to be sweet with a man she tagged as Carlos Lemus.
The actress has a one-year-old son with actor John Lloyd Cruz.


NBA SCORES FEB 2


FINAL/OT
    1    2    3    4    OT    T
team logo Nuggets 34-16    44    21    24    22    12    123
team logo Pistons 18-33    30    38    22    21    17    128
SCORING LEADERSN. Jokic DEN
39 PTS, 10 REB, 11 AST
A. Drummond DET
21 PTS, 17 REB, 4 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Suns 20-29    26    26    28    28    108
team logo Bucks 42-7    30    37    30    32    129
SCORING LEADERSD. Booker PHO
32 PTS, 7 REB, 6 AST
G. Antetokounmpo MIL
30 PTS, 19 REB, 9 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Pelicans 20-30    28    32    33    16    109
team logo Rockets 31-18    30    35    27    25    117
SCORING LEADERSB. Ingram NO
28 PTS, 12 REB, 3 AST
J. Harden HOU
40 PTS, 10 REB, 9 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Bulls 19-33    29    34    22    17    102
team logo Raptors 36-14    32    28    35    34    129
SCORING LEADERST. Young CHI
21 PTS, 7 REB, 1 AST
T. Davis TOR
31 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST

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