CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Cebu Chinese Chamber of Commerce donated 5,000 face masks to help prepare for a possible outbreak of COVID-19 in the Philippines. The masks were delivered by local businessman Francisco Benedicto.
The donation comes after it was reported that at least 26 Koreans from coronavirus-hit Daegu City traveled to Cebu. All except one have been accounted for, but none exhibited symptoms of the virus.
Cities around the world have been dealing with mask shortages due to panic buying.
Shortly after news of infections spreading in China began, pharmacies in Cebu started implementing a "one box per person" policy in the purchase of face masks to prevent hoarding. (READ: Amid coronavirus scare, masks fly off shelves in Cebu drugstores)
During a meeting on Friday, January 31, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella requested the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to monitor prices of face masks and to also sanction those who are hoarding them.
Hoarding masks can cause problems for hospitals or quarantine centers who need them to take in persons who may have the virus. (READ: WHO reminder: Reserve face masks for coronavirus high-risk people, health workers)
The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend wearing masks unless one is sick. Instead, they encourage the public to frequently wash hands and maintain good hygiene practices to avoid infection.
Cebu is home to the second busiest international airport. Cebu City’s chief executive Mayor Edgar Labella said they have been working to prepare the city for a possible outbreak.
“We’re meeting the challenge of [the coronavirus] by following the protocols of the Department of Health,” Labella said.
“Protocol is that if they are persons under monitoring, they will be under home confinement for 14 days. This means they are not symptomatic, but came from areas with known outbreaks. If there are young children, elderly, or other vulnerable persons in their homes, they will be placed under quarantine in a newly-built facility in Barangay Taptap."
Those who show symptoms will be placed in hospitals prepped to treat COVID-19 patients.
As of Monday, March 2, there have been 638 cases monitored in the country, although only 43 remain admitted and 592 others have already been discharged. – Rappler.com