Philippine bishops call for vigilance amid pandemic fears

Church leaders urge those who feel sick to seek immediate medical help after a possible coronavirus case
Philippine bishops call for vigilance amid pandemic fears

A Philippine quarantine officer checks the temperature of a passenger from China at the international airport in Manila on Jan. 22. The Philippines was probing its first case of a new coronavirus that has infected hundreds in China. (Photo: AFP)

Church officials in the Philippines have joined calls for the public to be vigilant over the reported spread of a deadly new coronavirus across parts of Asia.
 
Bishop Oscar Florencio of the Episcopal Commission on Health Care said people should "exercise extra vigilance because we are responsible also for the greater good of the majority."

The prelate called on Philippine officials to "do things swiftly" to address the reported spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) from Wuhan, China.

"But let us not create panic as well," said Bishop Florencio as he called on those who think they have symptoms of the virus to immediately seek medical attention.

"First and foremost, we have to exercise prudence here, both personally and collectively," he said.

"If one thinks he needs to see a doctor because of some suspicion about coronavirus-like symptoms, please let us be prudent enough to do it so that we can arrest the sickness right away." 

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga called on Catholics in his diocese to recite a "special prayer" for the prevention and control of the virus.

The prayer called on God to "control and prevent a global epidemic of coronavirus" and to give those infected "hope and courage."

The Philippines' Department of Health announced that it is investigating the case of a five-year old boy who traveled from Wuhan, China, to Cebu. The boy reportedly developed a fever, throat irritation and cough prior to arriving in the Philippines.

Several Philippine airports have already installed thermal scanners to increase surveillance on passengers flying in from overseas, especially China.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said security measures in airports that have direct flights to and from Wuhan are in place.

More than 500 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus have been reported across China, the United States, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Macao and Taiwan.

Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said there was no confirmed case yet in the Philippines.

China has already imposed measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including the temporary closure of Wuhan's airport and railway stations on Jan. 23.

Health officials said common symptoms of the virus include a fever, coughing, breathing difficulties and shortness of breath.

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

The World Health Organization said coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases.

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