Statement of FFFCCCII President Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong about the 2019-novel coronavirus (nCoV)

As the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the 2019-novel coronavirus (nCoV) threat as a public health emergency of international concern, the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) supports the Philippine government’s call for the public to remain calm and vigilant, promote public health and good hygiene, uphold social peace and stability.

We encourage the public to stay updated on government health advisories, cooperate with government efforts, be socially responsible by not sharing fake news or other unverified information, avoid expressing racist defamations. Spreading fake news and racist, xenophobic messages can be more dangerous than the virus itself due to their negative effects of causing confusion, fears, rancor and instability. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros said: “This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumors. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma.”

Also, let us not join some misinformed people in their unfair anti-China racist stereotypes and xenophobic attacks, because this important Asian neighbor is the Philippines’ traditional ally and longstanding trade partner for over 1,000 uninterrupted years. In fact, we should give moral support and encouragements to China in their valiant efforts to contain this ailment. Instead of racist attacks by some quarters, we should commend the China government’s transparency, for their remarkable political will and their immense sacrifices of imposing a lockdown on Wuhan City and its neighbors which involve millions of people.

“Boston Globe” newspaper on January 30, 2020 reported: “In the United States, where more than 8,000 people have died from influenza since the start of flu season in October, anti-Chinese racism centered around the coronavirus outbreak isn’t just ugly, it’s illogical.” This American newspaper in this same report further quoted Paul Watanabe, a political science professor and director of the Institute for Asian American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston: “The fact of the matter is we are facing a health crisis right now in the United States, and it’s a domestic one and it’s the flu.

The flu will clearly lead to the illness and death of more people in the United States than this virus ever will, probably internationally will. And yet there’s no sort of assumption that Americans in general — mainstream Americans — don’t clean their hands or eat strange food or don’t take care of their food properly.”

If the supply situation of face masks improves, we at FFCCCII plan to donate a million or more face masks for our countrymen in need of these here in the Philippines, although WHO said masks are not needed by healthy people with no respiratory symptoms or not caring for people with respiratory symptoms.

Through our diverse socio-civic projects, the FFCCCII has always given importance to and support to public health. Part of our various civic advocacies is our regular “FFCCCII Libreng Gamutan” free medical and dental missions to benefit urban and rural poor families throughout the Philippines.

We at the FFCCCII want the best medical care for all people in the Philippines, because we strongly believe that public health is the foundation of a nation’s wealth and economic productivity. A healthy population creates economic prosperity.

In the past years, the world has seen several health threats such as SARS, bird flu, swine flu, zika virus, and others. Let us pray, unite, promote better health and uphold social harmony so that we may overcome the 2019-nCoV threat soonest.

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