Philippines placed under state of calamity for a period of six months

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (Source: AFP/VNA). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.


MANILA, Mar 18, 2020, The Manila Times. President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire country under a state of calamity as the Department of Health admitted that there was now a sustained community transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), The Manila Times reported.

Duterte signed Proclamation 929 declaring a state of calamity in the entire country for a period of six months, “unless earlier lifted or extended as circumstances may warrant.”

“Despite government interventions, the number of cases of Covid-19 continues to rise,” the proclamation read.

The Health department said Covid cases are no longer tied to other cases, meaning that the source of infection could no longer be traced.

“Kapag ganito na po ang itsura ng ating sitwasyon ibig sabihin (This scenario means) that
we already have sustained community transmission,” Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a television interview.

A state of calamity means the national and local governments can access their quick response funds to address the needs of the public and enhance disaster preparedness efforts amid its fight against Covid-19, which has infected 187 people in the country and killed 12 others.

The President’s declaration also directs law enforcement agencies, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines “to undertake all necessary measures to ensure peace and order.”

It enjoins all government agencies to render full assistance in combating the spread of the new pathogen.

The President on Monday declared enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, severely restricting movement and suspending transportation.

Under the proclamation, the National Council shall recommend to the President the declaration of a cluster of barangay (villages), municipalities, cities, provinces and regions under a state of calamity, and the lifting thereof, based on the criteria set by the National Council.

“The President’s declaration may warrant international humanitarian assistance as deemed necessary,” the proclamation read.

The proclamation was issued as the Department of Health (DoH) confirmed that there were 45 new Covid cases, bringing the country’s total tally to 187.

The death toll remained at 12, as no casualty was recorded on Tuesday.

The Health department reported that a fourth patient had recovered after testing negative for the respiratory disease.

The 31-year-old man from Negros Oriental, who tested positive on March 9, was one of the repatriates from the MV Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The department said 259 persons under investigation were confined in hospitals, while 2,443 others were being monitored.

Meanwhile, Anakalusagan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor asked the DoH to explain the high mortality rate of the coronavirus disease in the country.

Defensor, chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts and vice chairman of the Committees on Health and Good Government and Public Accountability, said the latest DoH report registered a fatality rate of 8.57 percent.

“We still have small numbers of infection cases and deaths, but a quick glance at the data would show that in terms of percentage, there are more Filipinos than there are Thais, Indonesians or Indians dying of this disease,” he added.

He said this was higher than the global fatality rate of 3.57 percent, with 5,700 deaths from more than 152,000 confirmed cases.

Wuhan City in China, the origin of the disease, registered a 3.95-percent fatality rate with 3,204 persons who had died out of more than 81,000 infected. Italy, the new Covid-19 epicenter, also had a lower fatality rate at 1.49 percent with 368 deaths out of 24,747 reported cases.

Nearby countries also recorded a lower fatality rate at less than 1 percent with only one death out of 114 cases in Thailand and at 4.3 percent with five deaths out of 117 cases in Indonesia, Defensor said.

Defensor noted that India, which has a population of more than 1.3 billion, had 115 infected persons and two fatalities; Australia had 337 cases with five deaths; and Canada had 341 cases and only one fatality.

“But we have a higher percentage of deaths. I don’t want to speculate on why and I don’t want to sound alarmist. The DoH should tell us, look into why this is happening and take the necessary measures,” he said.

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