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Manila hails arrival of Chinese experts to help battle outbreak

By PRIME SARMIENTO in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-07 07:57
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The medical expert team sent by the Chinese government arrived in Manila, the Philippines, on Sunday. CHINA NEWS SERVICE

The Philippines has welcomed the arrival of a Chinese medical team to help the country counter rising rates of coronavirus infections.

The Philippine Department of Health said the country had 3,660 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Monday-the second most in Southeast Asia. The Philippines has a death toll of 163, among the highest in the region.

Twelve Chinese medical experts arrived in Manila on Sunday to help their Philippine counterparts manage the outbreak. The team brought 5,000 units of personal protective equipment, 300,000 surgical masks, 30,000 medical N95 masks, 5,000 medical protective face shields and 30 noninvasive ventilators that were donated by the Chinese government.

Philippine Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar thanked the Chinese government for helping the Philippines' efforts against the virus.

At a news conference on Monday, Andanar condemned a rise in anti-Chinese sentiment in the country, noting that despite the discrimination shown by some, China is still willing to help.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said China's aid "is deeply appreciated, (and will) never be forgotten" by the Philippines.

"China's medical experts are going to share their experience with the Philippines on how to fight it, how to contain it, and hopefully one day how to cure it," Locsin said in a statement.

Huang Xilian, China's ambassador to the Philippines, said Beijing sent the medical experts to Manila at the request of the Philippine government. He hopes the team "will be able to help the Philippines improve its ability in epidemic prevention and control as well as diagnosis and treatment, so as to boost the confidence of the public in overcoming the COVID-19(outbreak)".

Huang said the experts are among the first three teams being sent to Southeast Asian countries.

Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the team had firsthand experience in managing the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. The capital of Central China's Hubei province has been the Chinese city hardest hit by the outbreak.

In a statement, Duque said the team, which will be in Manila for 15 days, will advise the Philippines on "how to improve, level up our COVID-19 response, learn different levels of surveillance, risk-assessment, isolation strategies, detection through accurate testing, clinical case management, and non-pharmaceutical public health measures".

Duque said the Chinese experts and Department of Health staff will visit the hospitals and institutions that are crucial in containing the country's outbreak. These include the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, the Lung Center of the Philippines and San Lazaro Hospital, as well as quarantine facilities.

China has sent medical experts to many countries, including Italy, Serbia, Pakistan and Venezuela. China's National Health Commission said they have shared their experience in managing the coronavirus outbreak with officials in more than 100 countries and more than 10 international and regional organizations, according to a report by Xinhua News Agency.

Lucio Blanco Pitlo III, research fellow at the Asia-Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation, said China's move to help the Philippines and other countries struggling with COVID-19 projects the image of a responsible power.

"China is helping others fight a raging pandemic even if it's busy fending off possible new outbreaks at home," Pitlo told China Daily.

He said China's humanitarian efforts will be "certainly appreciated by countries facing bleak prospects in fighting the contagion on their own".

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