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Duterte says he warned Filipinos about COVID-19 'at the start'

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 4/7/2020
a person wearing a hat: Duterte wants more funds to fight COVID-19 Duterte wants more funds to fight COVID-19

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he warned the public from the start regarding the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“At the start, sinabi ko sa inyo, bantay tayo. Talagang yayariin tayo ng COVID na ito. It might not really cripple a country but it will of course cause sadness and fear kung paano tayo makakaraos dito,” Duterte said in his nationally-televised address.

“(COVID) is a thing that is rampaging our country and every country for that matter. Pati ang gobyerno desperado na. Ako desperado na rin,” he added.

Duterte in February downplayed the threat when the Philippines reported its first two confirmed cases in February.

He said there was no need for the public to be hysterical about it.

Duterte said one just needed to be checked at a hospital if he or she is suspected of contracting the viral disease.

"You know, this coronavirus scaring people all over the country. The response of the people from the initial reports of coronavirus was almost hysterical when there was really no need for it actually," Duterte said.

The chief executive initially decided not to immediately order a ban on all travelers coming from China, the country where the virus originated.

Duterte said it would be unfair to China if the Philippines would impose a travel ban from that country, considering that there are other nations with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

On February 2, he eventually decided to impose a travel ban on mainland China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau. Taiwan was later on included but was lifted on February 14.

On March 9, he also said he would continue to shake hands despite the COVID-19 scare, contrary to an earlier pronouncement by the Presidential Security Group that a “no-touch” policy to the president will be enforced.

“I want an embrace, why only a handshake? Kulang ‘yan… Kalokohan ‘yang protocol na 'yan. I will shake hands,” Duterte jested.

On March 16, Duterte placed the entire Luzon region under a month-long enhanced community quarantine due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country.

He also declared a state of public health emergency throughout the country.

Strict measures, including restrictions on travel and the closure of most establishments have been imposed during the period of the quarantine.

The Philippines has so far reported a total of 3,660 COVID-19 infections, including 163 fatalities and 73 recoveries. -Ma. Angelica Garcia/NB, GMA News

This article Duterte says he warned Filipinos about COVID-19 'at the start' was originally published in GMA News Online.

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