PANIC BUYING. People queue up in front of medical supply stores on Rizal Avenue corner Remigio Street in Sta. Cruz, Manila on Friday morning (Jan. 31, 2020) to purchase face masks as protection against the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). There has been panic buying of face masks since the Department of Health confirmed the first case of nCoV in the country on January 30. (PNA photo by Gil Calinga

MANILA -- The Chinese government has donated a total of 200,000 surgical masks amid a reported shortage in light of two reported cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the country, Malacañang on Sunday said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo bared that the Chinese government also offered to share medical information and findings on the nCoV.

“We wish to acknowledge with great appreciation the donation of the Chinese government of 200,000 surgical masks and its offer of sharing medical information and findings on the novel coronavirus,” Panelo said in a statement.

“Such sharing will go a long way in better understanding and containing the spread of nCoV,” he added.

Earlier, the Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (PCCCII) pledged to donate 600,000 face masks to the country amid the reported shortage.

Since the confirmation of the first nCoV case in the country, the public has been rushing to drug and medical supply stores to buy face masks, alcohol, sanitizers, and other disinfectants.

However, several drug and medical supply stores have already run out of face masks due to the sudden surge in demand.

The Palace official also assured countries with confirmed cases of nCoV that the Philippines will continue to help and support them while at the same time, preventing the spread of the virus in its territory.

Amid the outpour of racist and xenophobic remarks against Chinese nationals, Panelo urged Filipinos anew to be united in preventing the spread of the virus and false information.

“Instead of dwelling on the negative, we all should join hands in allaying the apprehensions of the citizenry and contribute to the containment of the disease by observing and following the health protocols put up by the Department of Health and other agencies of the government,” Panelo said.

“Let us all be united and vigilant with the rest of the countries and their citizens in combatting and surmounting this global health emergency,” he added.

He acknowledged the “grave anxiety” felt by Filipinos but warned that false information could “heighten fear” among the public.

“We must caution those who sow hate, stigma and false narratives vis-à-vis the disease and its origin. They will only exacerbate the already heightened fear among the people by their negativism,” Panelo said.

The 2019-nCov, which originated in Wuhan, China, continues to spread to more than a dozen countries.

As of February 1, data from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that the nCoV has killed over 250 people and infected nearly 12,000 people.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the temporary ban of visitors, regardless of nationality, coming from China and its Special Administrative Regions namely Hong Kong and Macao to contain the spread of the virus.

However, the temporary travel ban exempts Filipino citizens and holders of permanent resident visas issued by the Philippine government, directly coming from China, Hong Kong, and Macao. (PNA)