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Para iwas panic: Poe wants mobile text alerts on Covid-19

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Health and civil defense authorities should send free mobile alerts on the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak to ease widespread fears.

Senator Grace Poe made the proposal on Tuesday adding that such move will help citizens make informed choices.

“Mobile text alerts will also ensure that the public receives accurate and properly vetted information on the outbreak,” she said.

Poe said that information on the potentially deadly virus can be further strengthened through the use of mobile text alerts under Republic Act No. 10639 or the “The Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act,” which she co-authored.

Under the law, mobile phone service providers are mandated to send out at regular intervals warnings that consist of up-to-date information from relevant agencies in the event of a calamity. The alerts must include contact information of local government units and other agencies required to respond to the situation.

The text alerts should at least contain the regularly updated summary of confirmed cases, the affected areas of recent cases for the purpose of contact tracing and a 24/7 hotline to the Department of Health (DoH) to report suspected cases.

The mobile alerts must also include relevant information on Covid-19, such as measures for preventing the spread of the virus, its known symptoms and when to seek medical attention.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and DoH must coordinate with telecommunication companies (telcos) in sending the text alerts.

“The initial step to contain a virus is to make information on it viral through all available means,” said Poe, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Services.

“Improving the spread of information will help counter inaccurate reports and prevent mass hysteria,” she said.

Poe added, “There is no doubt that Covid-19 is a disaster or a calamity under the applicable laws, especially after it was declared a health emergency by the WHO and the President, respectively.”

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