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Palace foots flu bill

Francis Wakefield



Panelo guarantees no cash out for nCoV victims. AFP

Persons undergoing the prescribed 14-day quarantine period for the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) will not spend a single centavo as the government indicated that it will shoulder all costs associated with the disease.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the government will answer all the expenses such as the costs of tests, medicines, and confinement of patients being treated in government hospitals and facilities.

“We are the ones paying for the costs,” he said referring to government.

The Palace aide, however, said the guarantee does not cover confinement in a private hospital.

“If they are admitted in a private hospital, they’ll really spend. But if it’s a government hospital, I don’t think they will,” he added.

Panelo indicated the government takes over all expenses of patients once they are suspected as having been infected and they are admitted and quarantined in public hospitals.

Some posts in social media claiming to come from patients indicated that provided for free is only the coronavirus test and not the quarantine.

“No, why should they pay for that when they are in a government hospital?” he said.

30 home from Wuhan

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also brought back on Sunday a total of 30 Filipinos from Wuhan City, ground zero of the 2019-nCoV ARD.

Together with the repatriates were a 10-member team from the Philippines which included two members from the Philippine Consulate General in Shanghai, three members from the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs and five medical team members from the Department of Health (DoH).

Upon their arrival, the Filipinos were safely and swiftly transferred from the plane into dedicated buses and brought to the Athlete’s Village in New Clark City in Tarlac which will be their home for the 14-day quarantine period.

The DFA made an initial call for the repatriation of Filipino nationals in China on 28 January 2020, which was facilitated by the Philippine Embassy in Beijing and the Philippine Consulate General in Shanghai, the Foreign Service Post with jurisdiction over Wuhan city in Hubei province.

The Embassy and the Consulate liaised with Chinese authorities to facilitate the operation. This past week, two representatives from the Consulate General in Shanghai had to hurdle several border provinces’ clearances along their arduous two-day land travel to Wuhan City to coordinate with the Filipino community and the Foreign Affairs Office in Hubei Province.

Fear not

Panelo, meanwhile, assured Capas, Tarlac residents of their safety as the government laid out protocols to prevent the possible spread of the deadly virus in their area.

He allayed fears by some especially local government officials and communities nearby that bringing the use of the Athlete’s Village in New Clark City for the 14-day quarantine period could endanger the health of nearby residents.

He also reiterated that there is no reason for LGU (local government units) to protest the national government’s decision to bring the Filipinos to New Clark City as the national government has jurisdiction on the place.

With the National Economic Development Authority and Department of Tourism already reporting the effects of the disease to the tourism industry, Panelo said what the Philippine government and other governments around the world can do is do its best to prevent or stop the spread of the disease.

He added that any President or leader in the world will be bothered if their country’s economy is affected by problems such as this.

Panelo, at the same time, said that everybody, including the President, is hopeful that countries around the world can combat the disease.

Run to court

The Department of Justice (DoJ) indicated any official or resident of Capas, Tarlac with interest in business, tourism, investment, or health may file a complaint before the courts to question the use of the Southeast Asian Games athletes’ village in the province as quarantine facilities amid the 2019 novel coronavirus threat.

“The court will weigh their private or community interests against the wider public health and social welfare considerations. In the law on injunctions, this is known as the doctrine of relative inconvenience,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

The DoJ chief added that while a directive from the national government through the DoH takes precedence over the interest of the LGU of Capas, it will be up to the judiciary whether to uphold any objections against the national government.

“Legally, that’s for the court to decide,” Guevarra said.

Thirty Filipinos including one infant was flown in by the DFA on Sunday morning to Clark International Airport from Wuhan in Hubei, China ­— the epicenter of the 2019-nCoV ARD outbreak last month.

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