By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
MANILA: Malacañang on Thursday appealed to the media to refrain from writing stories about 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) that may sow fear and panic among the public.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said news firms should instead help the government raise public awareness on the Covid-19.
“We ask media outlets to refrain from exaggerating or amplifying reports that may only affect the mindset of the public and instead help in disseminating helpful tips on how to prevent the spread of the virus,” Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo made the statement, after the number of people infected with Covid-19 in the country already climbed to 49.
The increase in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country has prompted the public to resort to buying goods and sanitation supplies in bulk amid the ongoing threat of the infectious disease.
Panelo urged the public to avoid panic buying, warning them that hoarders would be punished.
He added that those who unscrupulously take advantage of the health crisis would also be arrested and dealt with in accordance with the law.
“The Office of the President hereby gives warning to those hoarding vital commodities, which create a hike in the prices, as well as selling them beyond their regular prices, that their actions will be dealt with accordingly in pursuance of public safety and order,” Panelo said.
Stop ‘hate’ messages
Panelo reiterated his assurance to the public that the government is implementing all “necessary and appropriate” measures to help contain Covid-19 and protect the people from being contaminated.
Panelo also renewed his call on the public to remain “calm and vigilant”.
He added that they should not “believe or spread any false information on Covid-19”.
He said it is high time for everyone to unite instead of spreading “hate” messages.
“The resort to hate messages or posts in social media channels and other platforms will do more harm than good, especially during this time which should be seen as an opportunity for the Filipinos to unite in the face of the health threat,” Panelo said.
To be protected against the threat posed by Covid-19, the public should observe the protocols on personal hygiene and social distancing established by the Department of Health to help contain the disease.
‘Urgent’ measures to fight Covid-19
Panelo noted that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases would meet on Thursday to discuss urgent measures that will be undertaken to respond to the recent “disturbing” development on Covid-19.
He also confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte and his former long-time aide, Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, would have themselves tested for Covid-19 after some Cabinet members have gone on self-quarantine after being exposed to an infected individual.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III are in self-quarantine to ensure that they are free of the virus.
In a statement earlier Thursday, Go said he and Duterte have not exhibited any symptoms of Covid-19 but have to undergo a test to make sure that they are “fit and healthy to engage the public and perform (their) duties in the coming days and weeks”.
Panelo also announced Wednesday that Duterte’s scheduled trip to Boracay on Thursday has been rescheduled to another date after a careful review of the situation concerning Covid-19 in the country. (PNA)