BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
CORONAVIRUS outbreak has been reported in Manila, Philippines, and Solomon Islands Government Sponsored students studying there are in fear wanting to return home.
According to report by SISAP students, now all schools in metro Manila are closed down as the numbers of confirmed cases continue to increase everyday having around 49 as of yesterday with fatalities.
Prevention gears like face masks, alcohol hand sanitiser and other stuffs are said to be running out of stock in drug stores and supermarkets as well as food, seeing people are now rushing to stock their house foods due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
With the current experience on food, SISAP students fear that there will be a food shortage situation soon.
“Most confirm cases are from Quezon City and Cavite City where most students are studying, being only a few meters away from our apartments,” said SISAP students reporting.
“Now we students are really worried because the outbreak might get out of control seeing our student President exchange emails with the National Scholarship Division for further advice and what is needed to be done as we are now waiting for response from our government.
“It’s better for us to return home when there are still no students being infected with the virus. With the current situation looks bad, as from observation, we will be facing food shortage.”
In response to SISAP students situation having them ask for repatriation, an email sent by the NSD Director, Curtis Kalu, through the SISAP President yesterday has advised all students to remain vigilant and attentive to instructions and information given, as are addressing the issue.
“Since information about the outbreak and spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Philippines was received from the Solomon Islands Students Association President, the National Scholarship Division (NSD) has this week informed the MEHRD senior management team to deliberate on the request of the students to be evacuated.
“The Senior management team has decided to seek approval from Cabinet and a paper was prepared for the Minister of Education, Honourable Commins Aston Mewa, to table it to Cabinet today (Thursday 12 March). The decision of the Cabinet will be conveyed to the students as soon as NSD is informed of the decision.
“In the meanwhile, the NSD/NTU wishes to inform all Philippine based students to be calm, vigilant and to be attentive to instructions given by Health Authorities in Philippines.
“The situation of our students in the Philippines institutions are being closely monitored by the Ministry through the senior management team and the National Disaster Operation Committee –Education.
“As a responsible authority, the MEHRD senior management team through the National Scholarship Division has established a direct contact line with the Solomon Islands students President in the Philippines. This is vital so that the students are encouraged to remain calm. Also so that the students can be informed of essential health promotion or hygiene practises they could apply to avoid contracting the coronavirus.
“Students are encouraged to apply essential health promotion practises, including regular hand washing, use of clean face towels when sneezing, and to use clean eating utensils. All students are encouraged to remain in their residences and not to wonder around places or to avoid getting close to large crowds to avoid getting the coronavirus.
“Finally students are reminded to await further instructions from NSD and to be assured that we care about your health and life and will continue to do our best to support you.
“Once again, all students are reminded to follow instructions from Philippines responsible authorities or to update yourselves with information released by the World Health Organization and Health Authorities,” said the NSD Director.
On another email exchange concerning the current issue, MEHRD’s Permanent Secretary (PS) informed the SISAP President saying “Cabinet will make a decision to repatriate students and so a paper will be tabled to Cabinet this morning [yesterday] for its decision.
“Will inform you the outcome as soon as Cabinet has deliberated on the subject.”
In response to the emails received, SISAP students said the sooner authorities deal with this issue the better, because the situation is getting worse and they are worried.
A ‘state of public health emergency throughout the Philippines’, has been declared on this week Monday by the President of Philippines.