Quezon City, Philippines— A consumer-commuter group today urges government to establish  a uniform, national and centralized health emergency protocols  to abate, mitigate and contain the further spread of the novel corona virus.

“With the alarming infection rate of nCov in China and after the virus has claimed its first casualty within Philippine territory, government’s disingenuous pronouncements about its preparedness in addressing this viral outbreak without establishing uniform, national and centralized health emergency protocols only undermines government’s earnest efforts at combatting nCov’s spread”,  says Atty. Argee Guevarra, Convenor of PASADA CC, a non-governmental organization for consumers and commuter welfare and protection.

“The optics alone paint a disturbing picture.  The showcase and frontline infrastructure of government’s fight against nCov  – the San Lazaro Hospital – the officially designated hospital in the country which is the publicly recognized hub for nCov cases, shows visible signs of being in the midst of initial stages of  dilapidation. San Lazaro Hospital does not inspire public confidence about government’s capacity, seriousness and efforts to manage this contagion. Despite the gallant pool of doctors and health workers in San Lazaro Hospital, they are not even properly attired in Hazmat suits or are equipped in modern health equipment.”, Guevarra adds.

At the 1st Busina Media Forum in Quezon City, Guevarra heard Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) spokesperson Assistant Secretary Celine Pialogo saying that what government has right now is an emergency and disaster response program for earthquakes. Under the program which it coordinates with LGUs, the entire National Capital Region has been subdivided into quadrants, with each having a hospital for containment purposes.

Pialogo however, did not confirm if these local hospitals are prepared to handle cases of pandemic-grade viral infections or diseases like the novel Coronavirus.

“Earthquakes or volcanic eruptions are dissimilar from health emergencies. The logistical requirements and the skill-set for government first-responders differ from each another. The former requires evacuation while the latter requires containment and quarantine. Government cannot obviously apply evacuation protocols to the nCov epidemic, Guevarra notes.

Guevarra observes that  “in the absence of uniform, national and centralized health emergency protocols laid down by Malacanang or adopted by the DOH, local politicos will likely fill this void  and promote their own protocols which may be just palliative measures or better suited for photo-ops and electioneering purposes but not for effectively preventing nCov spread under the prescribed protocols and standards of the World Health Organization.”  

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