MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday reiterated the importance of a temporary ban covering all travelers coming from Hubei province and other places in China where the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) had been observed following the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We still need to validate the other places as the situation is still fluid, the 14 or 15 provinces in China may still increase, on the basis of them being declared as Level 1, relatively higher nCoV cases,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a press briefing after the second inter-agency meeting on infectious disease in Manila City.
Duque clarified that the travel ban involves any person except Filipino citizens and holders of Permanent Resident Visa issued by the Philippine government, coming from Hubei Province and other places in China where the virus is widespread.
“Any person who has been to Hubei province, as well as other places in China where 2019-nCoV ARD (acute respiratory disease) has spread (and) officially confirmed by the Chinese government, and those traveling from China in Hong Kong, in the last 14 days — before arriving in the Philippines — will be temporarily banned to enter the Philippines,” he said.
As for Filipinos in China who wish to go home, Duque said they will be allowed to do so provided that they will undergo quarantine for 14 days.
Filipinos who are unwell and currently in China are advised to delay their return to the country and seek assistance from the Philippine embassy in China for further advice.
Duque reported that there are about 40 to 50 Filipinos from Hubei, China who have expressed intent to return home as reported by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) during the meeting.
“The Civil Aviation Board is in coordination with the DFA regarding their flight arrangement back to Manila. This is going to be free, this will not be charged to the repatriated Filipinos,” he said.
To protect the repatriated Filipinos and their families from the harms of the disease, Duque said they will assign a facility exclusive for the repatriation.
“Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija is one of the considerations. There are inspections to be done by a composite team of the DOH, AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippine National Police) just to make sure there will be minimal problems once the repatriated Filipinos come back, and tomorrow, they’ll inspect it,” Duque said.
During the meeting, the task force also made the following recommendations: meeting with Facebook Philippines to ramp up reach of the health advisories; maximizing school-based campaigns; implementation of strict sanitation standards on hotel and transit accommodations; helpline creation; and provision of health guidelines for local government units.
On Friday noon, the DOH reported an additional two patients under investigation (PUIs), bringing the total recorded number of PUIs to 31.
Of the total number, 23 PUIs are currently admitted and isolated while six have been discharged but are still under strict monitoring.
It also reported one confirmed case and one PUI mortality. Ma. Teresa Montemayor/PNA – northboundasia.com