By Neil Jerome Morales
MANILA, March 7 (Reuters) - The Philippines said on Saturday it had confirmed its first case of community transmission for the new coronavirus, prompting health ministry officials to call on the president to declare a public health emergency to contain its spread.
The case involves a 62-year-old male Filipino who had not travelled abroad recently. His 59-year-old wife has also been infected, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian nation to six, the health ministry said, adding that both are being treated at a government hospital.
The health ministry declared a code red alert which calls on medical professionals to be prepared to report for duty and recommended that President Rodrigo Duterte declare a public health emergency which would help with the procurement of critical supplies as well as with quarantine measures.
"This is a preemptive call to ensure that national and local governments and public and private healthcare providers can prepare for possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases," Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a news conference.
There have been three cases reported in two days. Before that, three Chinese tourists were diagnosed with the virus in January and the first week of February.
The coronavirus has spread to more than 90 countries, infecting more than 100,000 people and killing over 3,400 people worldwide.
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)
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