SARS: GMA VISITS PANGASINAN BARRIO

Dagupan City, May 2, 2003 -- President Arroyo is going today to Barangay Vacante in Alcala, Pangasinan, where the first two SARS fatalities came from.

Arroyo said her trip is meant to allay fears of an outbreak of the disease in the area.

To stress there is no reason to panic, Arroyo went to Lingayen and Dagupan, Pangasinan, yesterday for the Pistay Dayat (fluvial parade) and the first Bangus Congress.

Arroyo called on the public not to over-react, as she said face masks are not needed now yet except by health workers who are in close contact with SARS patients.

"Sabi ng WHO iyang mask na iyan, iyan ay false security blanket. Ang dapat gumagamit niyan ay iyung mga health workers na napakalapit ang kanilang contact sa mga may sakit. Pero iyung karaniwang gumagamit sa pang-araw-araw na wala namang close contact sa may symptom, iyan ay paranoia," Arroyo said.

Arroyo, at the celebration of the Labor Day at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, said panic would only weaken the economy, leading to loss of jobs.

She said if the public would only follow the advice of officials led by Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit, "hindi tayo malilihis at hindi tayo pagpa-panic at hindi tayo mag-o-over-react."

Arroyo said health workers would be provided protective gear to prevent them from contracting SARS from patients they are caring for.

As to observations she violated SARS prevention advisories by not going on voluntary quarantine after she returned from an Asean SARS summit in Thailand on Wednesday, Arroyo said Thailand is SARS-free.

"Kaya nung ako ay dumating dito sa Pilipinas, ginamit ko ang halimbawa ng mga nagdalo sa WHO (World Health Organization), nag-shake hands kahit na doon sa mga nanggaling sa China," she said.(By JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR, Malaya)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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