DepEd suspends February events amid coronavirus scare

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 4) — The Department of Education is shelving national events initially scheduled this month because of the threat of novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV.

"We have been advised to take care of exposing our children to crowded places. Right now the policy is for temporary postponement of all these activities because it will be drawing in learners, teachers, family members from all regions," Education Secretary Leonor Briones said during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

She earlier said this includes the multi-sport event Palarong Pambansa, which is expected to draw around 30, 000 students and their family members.

The DepEd later clarified on social media that only "specific national DepEd events usually held in February" will be suspended. Palarong Pambansa is slated in May.

The agency also issued a memorandum on the suspension of certain activities, including the National Science and Technology Fair, National Festival of Talents, and National Schools Press Conference.

The memorandum released Monday evening outlined what actions schools should take to protect students and personnel from coronavirus.

Among the items included in the memo would be the formation and activation of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) in regional offices of the department as well as schools, a preventive alert system, and the strict compliance of preventive measures set by the Department of Health that aims to stem the spread of the virus in schools and other institutions.

The DepEd memo also gave instructions on how school administrations can educate individuals on how to stay on guard against seasonal influenza.

Briones said DepEd is also discouraging schools from holding field trips, although they are not prohibited from doing so.

The Philippines has two confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV, with one Chinese national, who was travelling from Wuhan, dying from the infection. A total of 105 patients are under close watch for possible infection.