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DOH advises handwashing, social etiquette vs. new coronavirus

The Department of Health on Monday advised the public to wash their hands frequently and practice "social distancing" to avoid being infected by a new coronavirus. In a post on its Facebook account, the DOH also took precautionary steps to minimize, if not prevent, the spread of the disease in the Philippines. "Frequent hand washing, observance of cough etiquette and social distancing may help prevent spread of this illness and similar illnesses," it said. The same Facebook post said the DOH has "instructed hospitals to report the new cases using a standard report form available at the National Epidemiology Center." "Patient samples may be sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for confirmatory testing," it added. But for now, the DOH said the new coronavirus "does not appear to be highly contagious" although it may be spread through person to person transmission. It also noted there are no travel restrictions to and from countries where these cases have been reported, at least for now. Still, the DOH said the Bureau of Quarantine shall continue to routinely screen in-bound passengers, regardless of country of origin, in ports of entry, "for any signs of illness that may require temporary isolation in a health facility or at home." The DOH said the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged member states to report cases due to the new coronavirus. It said at least 12 respiratory cases, including five deaths, had been reported from several countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and the United Kingdom. Avoid confusion The DOH noted the WHO also urged health authorities to correctly report cases as "new coronavirus" and not to describe these cases as "SARS-like" to avoid confusion. It said possible symptoms of the new coronavirus include "severe respiratory difficulty." "A laboratory confirmation is necessary since other similar diseases due to various pathogens are also very common," it added. — RSJ/KBK, GMA News