A labor group on Friday urged the government to provide free standard face masks to poor citizens residing and working in areas identified as high-risk areas for virus exposure.
Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) president Raymond Mendoza made the call a day after the Department of Health (DOH) has reported the first confirmed case of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the country.
In the light of the country's national effort to battle and minimize the spread of the dreaded coronavirus, we are calling on the DOH to provide free face masks especially to poor citizens working and residing in locations identified by government surveillance team where the patient confirmed to have coronavirus traveled, he said in a statement.
We understand that this national emergency is a protracted phenomenon and not all citizens can afford to buy a steady supply of standard face masks and so we call on the government to allow the poor to access to life-saving face masks by providing them for free, Mendoza added.
Mendoza said some of the masks in the market are not the standard face masks particularly made to contain the contagion of the virus.
Providing free face masks will also help the poor from the economic burden caused by the need to buy these masks for self-protection and contamination, he said.
On Thursday, the Health Department announced that a 38-year-old Chinese female tourist tested positive for nCoV.
The woman is from Wuhan City in China, where the deadly virus reportedly started.
The DOH said there are 29 persons under investigation, the majority of them are still confined in different hospitals nationwide,
On the other hand, the World Health Organization said there are over 6,000 cases of nCoV, with 132 deaths worldwide.
Source: Philippines News Agency