CODE RED. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (2nd from left), along with other health officials, confirmed that the DOH has raised "code red sub-level 1" alert on the Covid-19, in a press briefing on Saturday (March 7, 2020). Duque also confirmed the sixth Covid-19 case in the country, who is the wife of the man who earlier tested positive for the virus. (Photo courtesy of DOH)

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday raised "code red sub-level 1" following the first reported localized transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the Philippines.

The alert level was raised as Health Secretary Francisco Duque III confirmed a new Covid-19 case in the country,

The 6th patient, currently in "stable condition", is a 59-year-old female who experienced cough and was admitted to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) on March 5.

Her husband, who was the 5th Covid-19 case, had no recent travel history and is known to have regularly visited a prayer hall in Barangay Greenhills, San Juan City.

"In light of the confirmation of localized transmission in the country and in anticipation of sustained community transmission, DOH has raised the Covid-19 alert system to code red sub-level 1," he said in a press conference.

Duque clarified that raising the alert level is a preemptive measure to ensure that the public, as well as health care providers, can prepare for a possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases of Covid-19.

"With this code red, the DOH has recommended to the Office of the President for the declaration of a State of Public Health Emergency," he added.

The declaration of such a health emergency in the Philippines would facilitate mobilization of resources, intensify quarantine measures and ease processes, including procurement of critical logistics and supply.

As of writing, Duque said the DOH continues to exhaust effort in identifying others who may have come in contact with the confirmed cases to ensure that the localized transmission does not progress to community spread.

Meanwhile, he reminded the public to observe precautionary measures against the virus.

"We are continuously reminding everyone to practice personal protective measures such as hand hygiene, social distancing, and proper cough etiquette. Avoid unnecessary travel and postpone mass gatherings, as well," he said. (PNA)