Duterte amid nCoV cases in Philippines: Stop xenophobia vs Chinese
President Rodrigo Duterte said that Filipinos should stop the "xenophobia" against the Chinese nationals.
In a press conference Monday evening in Malacanang after presiding over an emergency meeting regarding the deadly novel coronavirus, Duterte assured that the government is being transparent in handling the problem.
"Stop this xenophobia thing," Duterte said, citing the messages circulating in social media sites, including Facebook, against Chinese in the country.
He said Chinese nationals should not be faulted for the spread of nCoV.
"This is not the fault of anybody, not of the Chinese, not of the Filipino," he said.
The deadly nCoV originated in Wuhan City in Hubei, China in December last year.
For those saying that the Chinese people should be sent back to China, Duterte said, "You know it is not only a case of bad taste but it is not good for us Filipinos to be saying that."
Duterte noted that there are also thousands of Filipinos in China.
Duterte also said that travel ban is only effective against foreign nationals, including Chinese, who came from China, Hong Kong and Macau.
However, other Chinese nationals who will arrive in the country coming from third countries are not barred from entering the Philippines for as long as they have the valid documents, he said.
He assured the Chinese government that his administration is ready to assist them.
Duterte noted that so far only one person, a male Chinese, has died of nCoV in the country.
The first Chinese national died due to HIV, he said.
Duterte said the government is not hiding any information following the sudden announcement of the Department of Health last Sunday about the death of the 44-year old male Chinese, the first coronavirus-related death outside of China.
"I can assure you that this government will never hide anything...what's there to hide. It's not a treasure...it won't contribute to national wealth," he said.
However, in the event that more people need to be placed under quarantine, Duterte said he directed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to prepare space or ward in every hospital or separate building or room to house the patients.
He said in the event of a pandemic, the government could also confiscate buildings to be used for quarantine.
Duterte also assured that more masks would be available in the coming days.
"We are not sitting down here. That's why we call for the conference and we have the resources," he added.
Duterte said his government would follow the World Health Organization ( WHO) if the Philippines would further expand the travel ban to other countries.
"It's always good to go by the WHO. They have all the information," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS