PH, China Coast Guard to hold joint maritime exercises next week

Robie de Guzman   •   January 10, 2020   •   589

FILE PHOTO: A Chinese Coast Guard vessel is pictured on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea March 29, 2014. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese Coast Guard will dock in Manila on Monday, January 13 for a five-day goodwill visit, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Friday.

PCG spokesperson Captain Armand Balilo said the China Coast Guard, headed by Director General Major General Wang Zhongcai, will visit the country for the conduct of maritime exercises with the PCG.

Participating coast guard members from the two countries will also hold search and rescue, and firefighting exercises. The drill will be held from January 13 to 17.

Balilo said that during the port visit, the Chinese and the Philippine coast guards will come up with a resolution that would ensure the security and safety of Filipino fishermen and public vessels traversing the country’s waters.

The PCG said it will welcome the China Coast Guard not with red carpet but with diplomatic reciprocity, the same way it welcomed the PCG during a past visit.

The Philippines has been in dispute with China over territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea.

On several cases, Chinese ships were reported to have been circling shoals under the Philippine territory, including the vicinity of Pagasa Island in the West Philippine Sea. There were also cases of Filipino vessels reportedly harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard vessels.

The PCG expressed hope that the drill would be an opportunity for both sides to discuss the issue, and help improve the line of communication between the two nations when it comes to maritime patrol.

“Para magkaintindihan din kasi ang iniisip nga namin kung merong ma-enhance iyong pagkakaibigan baka sakaling magkaintindihan, even doon sa patrol at tsaka sa mga challenges, baka magkaroon ng tamang protocol kung paano ang dapat na engagement,” Balilo said.

Manila Health Dep’t. says rumored novel coronavirus case just pneumonia

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Manila City government on Monday, January 27, denied rumors spreading online about a case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Philippine capital.

In a statement, the Manila Public Information Office (PIO) said there is no confirmed case of the 2019-nCoV involving a Chinese national who was admitted at the Metropolitan Hospital in Binondo.

Manila City Health Officer Dr. Arnold Pangan identified the Chinese national as a 27-year old male who was working at a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO).

Pangan said the Chinese man was hospitalized last January 25, 2020, due to fever and cough. The City Health Officer said the foreigner reportedly resides on the boundary of Pasay and Paranaque Cities.

“Case is a 27-year old male, arrived in the Philippines as POGO worker last January 8, 2020. He is from Obei, China,” Pangan said in his report to the Office of the Mayor.

“MHD Surveillance Team, in coordination with DOH surveillance, and as per investigation, patient has fever and cough but negative on the history of travel to Wuhan, China, and no history of exposure to a host or positive case,” he stressed.

Pangan said the Chinese national was diagnosed with community-acquired pneumonia.

“As of the moment, the patient is well and does not have fever,” he said.

“The MHD is in a continuous effort of intensive information dissemination in our public schools and respective barangays regarding precautions on stopping transmission of coronavirus,” he added.

The Manila PIO said “the coronavirus scare on social media has apparently compelled the following schools in the nation’s capital to suspend classes” for Monday.

  • Philippine Academy of Sakya
  • Saint Stephen’s High School
  • Saint Jude Catholic School
  • Chiang Kai Shek College – Padre Algue and Narra branches
  • Uno High School

Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso appealed to the public to avoid sharing unverified information on social media to prevent panic or anxiety among the public over the virus spreading internationally.

“Hindi ikinikibit-balikat ang sitwasyong ito. Be vigilant. Huwag kayong maiilang. Huwag muna masyadong mag-alala. Tayo po ay makinig sa mga lathalain, panawagan ng mga tamang tao at ahensya ng gobyerno,” he said.

Mayor Isko also encouraged all citizens to immediately proceed to the nearest clinic or health center if they feel they are suffering from symptoms of the virus, which include cough, fever, and shortness of breath.

“Ngayon naman, sa lahat ng ating mga barangay, nakikisuyo ang ating MHD na kayo’y makipagtulungan by just being vigilant. Kayo rin, tayong lahat, huwag kayong matatakot kapag kayo ay may ubo. Mas maganda magpagamot at magpa-check up,” he said.

The national Department of Health (DOH) has said there is still no confirmed case yet of 2019-nCoV in the Philippines although it is monitoring at least 11 individuals for a suspected respiratory infection. These patients under investigation have been recorded in different hospitals in Muntinlupa and Pasay Cities in Metro Manila, Kalibo in Aklan, El Nido in Palawan, Cebu City, and Camiguin, based on DOH’s data.

Based on the latest report of China’s National Health Commission, the death toll from the novel coronavirus strain has spiked to 80 on Monday with hundreds of new infections despite massive travel lockdown and quarantines in China.

The virus was first detected in the Chinese City of Wuhan and has since spread to neighboring towns and other countries. Confirmed 2019-nCoV cases have been reported as far as the United States, Canada, France, Australia, Nepal, as well as in Asian cities of Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Lunar New Year event in Binondo to push amid novel coronavirus risk

Robie de Guzman   •   January 23, 2020

Filipino-Chinese revelers scramble to get candies in celebration of the Chinese New Year at Manila’s Chinatown, Philippines, 08 February 2016. Filipino-Chinese communities welcome the Year of the Monkey, holding various activities and practices traditionally believed to bring good fortune for revelers. EPA/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – Organizers of festivities connected with the Chinese New Year celebration on January 25 said the countdown event scheduled in Binondo on Friday will still push through amid the threat of novel coronavirus spreading internationally.

Thousands of people are expected to troop on Binondo streets during the countdown event on Friday night, making the transmission of the virus from an infected person very likely in this kind of environment.

Cholo Sediaren, one of the organizers of the Chinese New Year in Manila, said they are closely coordinating with local authorities for the safety of the participants amid the threat of a new coronavirus strain which has already killed 17 in China.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to pull off na would be enjoyable but at the same time be safe for everyone especially since the line-up is really big and we are expecting a lot of people to attend,” Sediaren said.

Authorities in the District of Binondo – also known as Manila’s Chinatown – said they are on alert against the disease and distributed face masks to their constituents to prevent them from getting the virus.

They also advised residents not to join the festivities if he or she is feeling under the weather or are having flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever or colds.

The National Health Commission of China reported that as of Wednesday, more than 500 people have been infected by the new coronavirus strain. There are eight other known cases from other countries – Thailand has four confirmed cases, while Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and the United States have each reported one.

The previously unknown coronavirus strain was first detected in the Chinese City of Wuhan in late December 2019.

In the Philippines, there is no confirmed case yet of the new coronavirus strain according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. However, they are monitoring several individuals from China who were reported to have manifested symptoms of respiratory illness.

Common symptoms of novel coronavirus include cough, throat irritation, and fever.

Coronavirus, which is a large group of viruses common among animals, causes respiratory infections ranging from common colds to more serious diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The virus can be transmitted to humans through contact with an infected person or animal, authorities said.

The Department of Health has advised the public to always practice frequent handwashing, avoid crowded places and contact with an infected person, and to thoroughly cook food, especially meat and dairy products. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Chinese tourist dead, 27 rescued in Boracay boat mishap

Robie de Guzman   •   January 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A Chinese national died while 27 others were rescued after an island-hopping boat capsized in waters off Boracay Island on Tuesday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said.

The PCG said its personnel from Boracay sub-station were able to rescue 25 tourist passengers as well as three crew members of the boat.

However, the rescuers failed to revive a 45-year old female tourist despite performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Three other female passengers who needed medical assistance were brought to the nearest hospital.

“They have regained consciousness and are declared safe and in good condition,” the PCG said.

Remaining survivors are also safe and in good physical condition, the agency added.

The coast guard said motorbanca “Jocelyn 1” capsized along the waters off Barangay Balabag in Boracay after encountering strong winds that broke the boat’s outrigger on Tuesday morning.

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