DOH prepares for possible coronavirus pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 26) — The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said it was preparing for the worst case if ever the corona virus disease (COVID-19) becomes pandemic.

“Even before the WHO’s anticipation […] We have been preparing long before this anticipation manifested by WHO of a possible pandemic. We are doing this at different levels,” said DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III in a briefing.

Last week, the World Health Organization said the COVID-19 has pandemic potential – but it’s not there yet. However, it was previously declared as a public health emergency of international concern.

Duque said that DOH already knows what to do in case of local transmission in the country.

“At the level of incident planning and management, in case there will be local transmission, we know what to do, just like what happened in the SARS-COVID in Alcala, Pangasinan, where the whole place was quarantined.”

Further, DOH also said that the research capacity of Research Institute for Tropical Medicine is being levelled up.

“This is the reason why we have been increasing the number of our capability for research capacity, in case maraming magkaroon ng (if ever many will be infected by) COVID-19, handa ang ating pagsusuri ng RITM (RITM is ready to do research),” said Duque.

DOH added that level 2 and 3 hospitals are also being prepared for a possible pandemic.

Further, Duque said that community engagement will be vital during the worst-case scenario.

“Risk communication and community engagement, very important should we operate under a code red alert level, which is the highest. This is part of the door for response,” he said.

On the other hand, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said that the national government is prepared to carry-out lockdowns if needed.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said Wednesday the government has an experience of carrying-out lockdown activities in the past just like during the Marawi siege.

Año added authorities also have proper gears to respond in case lockdowns are necessary.

More than 2,700 people have died globally and more than 80,000 people have been infected since the outbreak of COVID-19.

CNN Philippines' correspondent Gerg Cahiles contributed to this report