During a press conference held in Malacañang on Monday, 3rd February 2020, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte called on the public to stop anti-Chinese sentiment after two cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), with one fatality, had been confirmed in the Philippines.
The novel coronavirus originated from Wuhan in Hubei province, China. It is reported to have infected more than 17,000 people and caused the deaths of around 362 people, mostly in China. It has also spread to several countries, including Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Korea, Australia, United States, Germany, Malaysia, Vietnam, France, United Arab Emirates, Canada, India, Italy, Russia, United Kingdom, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Spain, Sweden, Cambodia, Finland, and the Philippines.
“Stop this Sinophobia” – Duterte
“China has been kind to us,” Duterte stated, as cited by the Philippine News Agency. “We can only also show the same favor to them. Stop this sinophobia.”
The President said that it was “not good” to express aversion or hostility to the Chinese, simply because the 2019-nCov originated from China. Likewise, he frowned upon calls for Chinese people to return to their country.
“You know it is not only a case of bad taste but it is not good for us Filipinos to be saying that,” he explained. “Ngayon (Now) they are blaming the Chinese na galing sa (coming from) China. It could always incubate in some other places. It happened in China, at least the first. But that is not the fault of anybody. Not the Chinese, not the Filipino, no one.”
Moreover, Duterte emphasized that there are a lot of Filipinos living and working in China. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), almost 300,000 Filipinos are there.
“But even if there are none, we are a community of nations,” the President declared. “We cooperate…. We can assure the Chinese government that we too can help.”
Temporary Travel Ban in Place
On Sunday, 2nd February 2020, Duterte imposed a temporary travel ban on all visitors from China and its Special Administrative Regions, Hong Kong and Macau. He also banned Filipinos from traveling to these places.
When asked if the temporary travel ban would extend to other countries, the President said that this would depend on recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO).
“We will go by the recommendations that will be given out by the WHO,” Duterte declared. “We cannot act on our own.”
As of this writing, the Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed two cases of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines: a 38-year old woman from Wuhan, China, along with her companion, a 44-year-old man.
Unfortunately, the male patient has died, making his case the first reported death outside of China due to 2019-nCov.
Without a doubt, the novel coronavirus has been spreading throughout China and other countries at an alarming rate. At times like this, communication and cooperation with government authorities is crucial, especially if we observe (or experience ourselves) symptoms of 2019-nCoV.
Unless a cure, vaccine, or more effective measures to contain the virus is found soon, we can only hope for the best, and learn how to protect ourselves from novel coronavirus.