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Amid COVID-19 scare, Panelo to address media in online press conferences

President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson Salvador Panelo will be holding press briefings via teleconference beginning Tuesday as part of the government's efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.

The Palace announced the decision after Panelo floated the idea of stricter social distancing measures during his briefing for reporters covering Malacañang.

“I was hoping nga, mayroon ditong ano eh, mayroong mirror dito, pero wala pala. Pero okay na rin iyang distancing natin,” he said.

The reporters were seated apart during the briefing, which focused on the implementation of the community quarantine in Metro Manila.

Panelo wore a face mask during the press conference.

The Palace official said he had read articles claiming that eating bananas and gargling salt water could kill the virus.

“May nakita ako sa internet iyong saging pala magandang panlaban daw, eh ako kain nang kain araw-araw ng saging,” Panelo said.

"Naging ugali ko na mag-gargle ng salt water. ‘Pag nakakaramdam lang ako ng kaunting sipon, nag-ga-gargle ako. Sabi ni Dr. [Health Secretary Francisco III] Duque, puwede rin daw iyon, okay daw iyon kasi ang una raw na pinupuntahan ng virus iyong throat natin eh.”

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said as early as January that gargling with water and salt would provide no protection against or cure for COVID-19.

I don’t think there is any evidence that it will kill a virus,” Domingo said at a news conference on January 31.

Domingo said gargling with water and salt might help with sore throat.

The Department of Health has repeatedly urged citizens to always wash hands with soap and water, observe cough etiquette and practice social distancing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected many countries, including the Philippines. -NB, GMA News

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