By Chito Chavez

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has formed a task force to monitor and address possible cases of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the city in compliance with the directive issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

051216 ADJUSTMENT IN PROPERTY TAX 03 BALMORES 1 - Belmonte forms task force to address possible nCoV cases in QC

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

At the same time, Belmonte slammed false online reports claiming the presence of nCoV cases in Quezon City.

“We have to call these circulating online reports as fake news. As of now, no one in Quezon City has been tested positive for novel coronavirus,” Belmonte said.

However, Belmonte admitted that a Filipino couple with a travel history to China as part of their work as seafarers went to Diliman Doctors Hospital (DDH) due to back pain.

After further scrutiny into the couple’s background, Belmonte said “it was learned that the couple had a travel history to China so the Quezon City Health Department, DDH, and the Department of Health (DOH) decided to bring them to the San Lazaro Hospital for an extensive check-up.”

“The city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) assisted in the transfer with its staff wearing full protective suits,” she added.

The couple did not want to ride the ambulance so they used their personal car and were escorted by various health officials en route to San Lazaro Hospital, according to QC DRRMO head Mike Marasigan.

Finding no clear symptoms of 2019-nCoV, doctors from San Lazaro Hospital advised the couple to undergo self-quarantine for 14 days.

“The QCHD regularly monitors the couple’s situation,’’ Belmonte said. “Quezon City remains free from novel coronavirus.”

Belmonte explained the task force she formed is composed of the QC Health Department (QCHD), Public Affairs and Information Services Department (PAISD), Barangay and Community Relations Department (BCRD), and the Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD), among others.

Three city hospitals — Quezon City Medical Center, Rosario Maclang Bautista General Hospital, and the Novaliches District Hospital — are also included in the task force.

“Mabuti nang handa kaysa bigla na lang tayong mabulaga ng mga kaso ng coronavirus sa ating siyudad (It is better to be prepared instead of being caught off guard by a coronavirus case in the city),” Belmonte said.

“Sisikapin ng iba-ibang departamento na mapigil ang pagpasok ng nCoV sa ating siyudad, ngunit handa rin silang umaksiyon laban dito kung kinakailangan (The city’s various departments are trying their best to prevent the entry of nCoV into the city, but at the same time they are ready to respond to any eventuality).”

Belmonte also advised local residents to follow the DOH’s advice on how to prevent the spread of nCoV.

This includes frequent and proper hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, washing hands after sneezing or coughing, using alcohol or sanitizer, ensuring that food is well-cooked, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to strengthen immunity.

Meanwhile, QC Health Department head Dr. Esperanza Arias has oriented medical doctors about the 2019-nCoV and activated fever lanes in various health facilities to immediately address 2019-nCoV concerns.

“We have coordinated with the DRRMO regarding the transport of patients under investigation (PUIs) and will include coronavirus in our pre-clinic lectures and in their information drive on polio,” Arias said.

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