DOH recommends declaration of nationwide public health emergency due to COVID-19 local transmission

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The Department of Health (DOH) on  Saturday recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the declaration of a public health emergency  in light of the confirmation of the first case of local transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.

“The DOH confirms that the previously reported fifth case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as the first case of local transmission in the country after verification from the Bureau of Immigration showed that the patient had no recent travel history,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a press conference.

“With this Code Red, the DOH has recommended to the Office of the President for the declaration of Public Health Emergency which will facilitate mobilization of resources and ease processes, including procurement of critical logistics and supplies and intensifying reporting and quarantine measures,” Duque said.

Due to the confirmation of COVID-19’s localized transmission in the country, Duque said the DOH has raised its alert to Code Red Sub-Level 1.

The raising of Code Red, Duque said, is a “preemptive call” for both the national government and local governments as well as public and private health care providers to prepare for possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases.

The DOH also confirmed on Saturday that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country has risen to six.

The latest case is the wife of a patient previously confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19 who had no recent travel history, Duque said.

“The DOH also reports that the patient’s wife tested positive for COVID-19 after contact tracing activities were prompted,” Duque said.

“This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to six,” he said.

The sixth confirmed case of COVID-19 is a 59-year-old female who presented with cough and was admitted at the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine on March 5.

“The patient is currently in stable condition,” Duque said.

On Friday, the World Health Organization said the fifth confirmed COVID-19 patient is already a case of local transmission./Stacy Ang

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