Health Emergency in Philippines as Coronavirus Cases Rise to 24


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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, on Monday declared a state of public health emergency and ordered that school classes in all levels in the capital be suspended for five days, as cases of the new coronavirus rose to 24.

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Under the state of emergency, all government agencies are directed to mobilize the necessary resources to undertake critical, urgent and appropriate response and measures to curtail and eliminate the Covid-19 threat.

The secretary of health may call upon the national police and other law enforcement agencies to provide assistance in addressing the Covid-19 threat, read the emergency declaration, which was signed on Sunday and made public on Monday.

Duterte said the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Philippines rose to 24 as more infections were confirmed since the weekend.

It is the consensus that school classes in all levels will be suspended in the national capital region beginning from Tuesday and it will end March 14.

He told a late-night televised press conference after meeting with an inter-agency task force on the coronavirus threat.

The task force will meet again after Saturday to discuss if it was necessary to further suspend classes to keep the children safe .

The national capital region refers to metropolitan Manila, which comprises 16 cities and one town with a total population of nearly 13 million people.

The first local case of transmission in the Philippines was reported on Friday.

The patient is a 62-year-old man with no travel history.

His 59-year-old wife has also tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Three towns in nearby Rizal province, just east of Manila, also suspended school classes, while education authorities indefinitely postponed an annual sports event for elementary and high school students in May, as well as other regional competitions this month.

Elsewhere in South-East Asia, Bangkok cancelled all official events related to Thailand’s annual water fighting festivities due to fears of the epidemic.

Songkran, the biggest holiday on the Thai calendar, is celebrated by nationwide water fights that foreign tourists delight in taking part in.

Thailand has reported 50 coronavirus cases, 33 have been discharged from hospital while 16 others are still receiving treatment.

One person who tested positive died.

Indonesia announced 13 new infections, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 19.

Malaysia saw 18 more on Monday, raising the total to 117.

In Singapore, the total stands at 160 after ten new cases.

Dozens of foreigners flew out of isolated North Korea after weeks of forced quarantines.

The Russian embassy in Pyongyang wrote on its Facebook page that around 80 people, many of them foreign diplomats, had been flown to Vladivostok in the far east of Russia on Monday by an Air Koryo aircraft.

Among the passengers were diplomats from Germany, France, and Switzerland.

North Korea has for weeks now halted all train and air travel to foreign countries due to fears of the epidemic and has placed all foreigners in the reclusive country under compulsory quarantine.

Germany meanwhile announced that it was among the countries suspending operations at its embassy in Pyongyang.

So far, no Covid-19 cases have been reported by the North Korean government.

In mainland China, 40 new cases of infection and 22 more deaths were reported.

This brought the total deaths on the mainland from the outbreak, which began in Hubei’s capital Wuhan in December, to 3,119, and the number of people diagnosed with the virus to 80,635.

Out of the latest confirmed cases, 36 occurred within the country’s hardest-hit province of Hubei.

Every death apart from one was in Hubei, according to the official data.

The number of newly confirmed cases from the virus in mainland China have been steadily dropping in recent days.

At its peak, thousands of new cases and over a hundred new deaths were being recorded daily in China.

In a single day in February, Hubei alone reported over 14,000 new cases and 242 deaths.

In Quanzhou, on China’s south-eastern coast, 22 people remain missing after the collapse of a hotel being used to quarantine people who had come in contact with the virus.

At least ten people died in the accident.

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