AFTER the public hearing of the Senate on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease (2019-nCoV ARD), Committee on Health chair and Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go urged the Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday, Feb. 4 to hasten the procedures in tracking the airline passengers who might have had contact with the tourists who tested positive for 2019-nCoV ARD infection.
“’Yan dapat hanapin talaga nila. Dapat nila panagutan ‘yan... Dapat nilang i-account. Sabi naman ng taga-PAL (Philippine Airlines) sa akin kanina, binigay raw nila ang mga pangalan,” Go told reporters in an interview.
He urged the DOH to coordinate with other government agencies. “Gamitin niyo ang mga pulis. Gamitin natin ang immigration officials. Kaya ‘yan. If there’s a will, there’s a way. May paraan talaga. Gawin niyo na may dedikasyon ang inyong trabaho.”
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III admitted during the committee hearing that the DOH has so far contacted seventeen percent or 331 individuals only out of the total number of passengers who had been in the same flight as the patients.
The country’s only two positive cases of 2019-nCoV ARD involved two Chinese nationals from Wuhan City, China. They arrived in the Philippines on Jan. 21 and visited the cities of Cebu and Dumaguete. One of them died on Feb. 1.
As to Duque’s statement that “heads will roll” due to the slow action of some health officials, Go said that the Health secretary has the right to do as he sees fit. “That is his prerogative po kung gusto niyang tanggalin ang mga tao niya. Bilang committee chair naman po ay nakatutok kami rito sa Senado.”
He also agreed with Duque’s statement that the coordination between government agencies should be improved. “Dapat. Trabaho nila ‘yan. Dapat ayusin ninyo ‘yung sistema ninyo, coordination, kaya nga meron kayong Inter-Agency Task Force para pag-usapan at gumawa kayo ng solusyon sa bawat problemang darating sa atin,” he said.
The Senator also said that he is open to calling another public hearing on the 2019 nCov ARD if necessary. “Kung kakailanganin po, magpapatawag ako, para mawala ‘yung pangamba ng mga Pilipino.”