The Department of Education (DepEd) has formed a task force to address the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) outbreak.
According to a Sunday report on 24 Oras Weekend by Saleema Refran, the creation of the task force came after several schools and universities ordered students, faculty members, and other stakeholders to undergo self-quarantine amid fears over the outbreak.
According to DepEd Memorandum No. 11 s. 2020, the task force is created "to lead the overall efforts of the Department within the school system in addressing the situation through formulation of policies and development of strategies and action plans."
It is mandated, among others, to:
- cooperate with the Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Philippines;
- coordinate with the DOH for the implementation of its response to the virus, including any decision for school or office lockdowns and school suspensions; and
- promulgate standard protocols in DepEd offices and schools.
The memorandum was made on the heels of schools' taking precautions in response to the coronavirus threat. According to the 24 Oras Weekend report, Adamson University advised all members of its school community who traveled to countries with confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV ARD within the last month or came in close contact with a suspected case to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
The administration of Far Eastern University Manila and Makati likewise ordered students, faculty, and employees to quarantine themselves for two weeks if they recently traveled abroad and only returned to the Philippines in the last 14 days.
The advisory covered anyone who recently traveled to China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Malaysia, France, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Singapore.
The Polytechnic University of the Philippines also ordered students or employees who traveled abroad from January 14, 2020 onwards to undergo self-quarantine for 14 days.
A number of Chinese schools in Manila earlier canceled classes as a precautionary measure amid the 2019-nCoV ARD outbreak.
The Philippines has two confirmed virus infection cases and recorded the first death due to the 2019-nCoV ARD outside China. — Julia Mari Ornedo/DVM/BM, GMA News