WUHAN VIRUS SPREAD: Village chiefs urged to stop disinformation

Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia (4th from left), Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran (3rd from left) lead a press conference Friday where they asked barangay officials to help curb disinformation on the spread of the 2019- novel coronavirus (nCoV). Also in photo are (from left) Dr. Ma Luz Ma-apni, chief of the CHO Maternal and Child Health, Assistant City Health Office Dr. Jovy Vergara, Councilor Cindy Rojas, chair of the SP Committee on Health and Sanitation; Councilor Lady Gles Gonzales-Pallen, president of Liga ng mga Barangay; and Executive Assistant Jose Maria Vargas, head of Cluster on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. (PIO)

By Dolly Yasa

Disinformation has become the heaviest concern of local officials as the country grapples to contain the spread of the 2019-novel coronavirus (nCoV).

Containing not just the virus but even the spread of unfounded information became more imperative with the confirmation of the second case in the country and the first death outside China where the virus was first detected, particularly in Wuhan City.

In Bacolod City Mayor, Evelio Leonardia called on village chiefs to help contain disinformation about the virus novella and at the same time inform their constituents on precautionary measures against the virus.

Leonardia met with the barangay captains of the 61 barangays in the city Friday.

He also informed them that he has issued an executive order creating the Bacolod City Inter-Agency Task Force against the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV).

The task force is headed by Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran with Councilor Cindy Rojas, Sangguniang Panlungsod Committee on Health chair; and City Health Officer Dr. Ma. Carmela Gensoli as vice-chairpersons.

Both Leonardia and Familiaran appealed to saboteurs to refrain from spreading fake news about 2019-nCoV.

They sought the help of the barangay captains for cooperation from constituents to avoid worsening the situation.

Leonardia also echoed the advisory of Department of Health (DOH)-6 regional director, Dr. Marlyn Convocar, that the public must only heed information from the World Health Organization and DOH websites instead of falling for the so-called fake news or “infodemics.”

Convocar said Western Visayas is free of the nCoV and she advised the public to remain calm and vigilant at all times.

On the other hand assistant, Bacolod City Health Officer Dr. Jovy Vergara said their office and the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office and executive assistant Butch Soliguen have formulated a contingency plan to prevent the spread of 2019-nCoV.

Health advisories were posted in all points of entry like airport and seaports, Vergara said.

He added that they also have contingency plans if there are persons under investigation for possible infection by the virus in the city.

Familiaran said he called up the Department of Education to inquire about measures it has taken to prevent the spread of the virus.

He said he also asked the Philippine Coast Guard and Philippines Ports Authority and Bredco management to confirm reports of Chinese sea vessels docking at the port to deliver cement.

Meanwhile, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson is set to meet with health officials and members of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) today, Feb 3, 2020, to discuss actions to prevent the entry of the 2019-nCoV in the province.

In an interview with Aksyon Radyo-Bacolod over the weekend, Lacson said they have yet to form a task force against the ongoing threat, although he was informed by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Ernell Tumimbang that they are now ready.

Lacson urged the public not to rely too much on the government or the health workers as “everyone has to do their obligation in the community by following the advice issued by health officials.”

He also told the public to immediately notify their respective barangay or health officials if they know someone who has recently traveled to China.

Lacson also appealed to the public to stop spreading “fake news” on social media to prevent panic.

Earlier, Tumimbang said they have increased surveillance and monitoring at the province’s points of entry and border between the two Negros provinces.

Tumimbang also reiterated that there is no confirmed nCoV case in the province nor are there patients being monitored.

The Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, meanwhile, has also offered to assist the Provincial Health Office in border monitoring.



The Diocese of Bacolod has started implementing preventive moves against the virus.

Diocese of Bacolod Social Action Center head, Reverend Fr. Chris Gonzales, said they support the advice of health officials that the churchgoers should temporarily avoid handshaking and kissing.

Priests in the diocese along with their respective ministers were also advised to place the Holy Communion in the parishioners’ hand instead of the usual hand-to-mouth scheme.

The move of the local diocese was also based on the recommendations of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Among the other recommendations by the CBCP is to check and change the Holy Water regularly, installing protective cloth on the grills of the confessionals, and discouraging hand-holding during the “Lord’s prayer.”

During the masses today on Sunday, priests in the diocese were also ordered to release the message of Bishop Patricio Buzon regarding the actions being made to prevent the virus from spreading.

The CBCP has also issued an “oratio imperata” or a prayer against nCoV.