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Philippine Navy postpones fleet review hosting over COVID-19 scare

The country’s hosting of the 17th Western Pacific Naval Symposium and the International Fleet Review has been postponed indefinitely because of the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Philippine Navy announced Sunday.

"The rapid increase of cases worldwide, which also affect 21 WBNS member countries and eight observer states compelled the PN to defer the historic convergence of navy chiefs and warships in the country especially now that the Philippines is under the state of public health emergency,” PN said in a statement.

The two events, which were supposed to happen in May, will be moved to a later date, Lieutenant Commander Maria Christina Roxas said.

The WPNS aims to “increase cooperation and the ability to operate together, as well as to build trust and confidence between Navies by providing a framework to enable the discussion of maritime issues of mutual interest, the exchange of information, the practice and demonstration of capabilities, and the exchange of personnel.”

Aside from the WPNS and IFR, other international maritime exercises such as the ASEAN Navy Chiefs’ Meeting, ASEAN Multilateral Naval Exercise and the International Maritime Review have also been postponed due to the viral disease.

With this, the PN said it will instead focus on helping mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in the country.

“Sea, air and land assets are all in place for necessary deployment while sailors, marines and reservists join the frontline of inter-agency task force to help contain the spread of the virus."

As of Sunday, the country has reported a total of 3,246 COVID-19 cases; 152 fatalities; and 64 recoveries. —Ma. Angelica Garcia/LBG, GMA News