Loopholes in rules to prevent spread of nCoV: Only Cebu has ‘strict measures’
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Taking measures, or the lack thereof, by a local government unit (LGU) takes a toll not only in its immediate jurisdiction.
With Cebu being the “only” local government unit that had strict protocols on home quarantine, health officials on Thursday, February 6, 2020, admitted the measures in place to prevent the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) were still threatened with loopholes.
Dr. Jaime Bernadas, Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) director, said the loopholes were caused by the lack of stern measures by other LGUs that also host international airports like that of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA).
“Mao ni ang butas sa atong palisiya kay it is only the province of Cebu that has issued a strict mandatory quarantine. All other provinces has implemented the home quarantine alternative that was issued by the DOH precisely because they have not identified a quarantine facility yet,” Bernadas said in a meeting with the mayors and local health officers at the Capitol.
(This is the loophole in our policy because it is only in the province of Cebu that has issued a strict mandatory quarantine. All other provinces has implemented the home quarantine alternative that was issued by the DOH precisely because they have not identified a quarantine facility yet.)
This means that if an arriving Filipino passenger from China, Hong Kong or Macau lands in other airports, they might leave the airports on grounds of home quarantine and enter Cebu without having followed the home quarantine protocols in place.
Under Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s executive order, not all arriving passengers may qualify to undergo self quarantine.
The house where the passenger or person identified for home quarantine should have a separate room for themselves during the 14-day quarantine period.
The 14 days of quarantine are equivalent to the maximum incubation period of the 2019 novel coronavirus.
For a PIHQ (person identified for home quarantine) to qualify for home quarantine in Cebu, his household should also not have a member younger than 10 years old or older than 60 years old as these age groups may have low resistance to viral infection.
To “mend” these loopholes, Bernadas encouraged the public to inform their municipal or city health officers if they had neighbors who had arrived from abroad so that the local health officers could assess if they would need to be quarantined.
Aside from those coming from China, Macau and Hong Kong, those persons, who traveled with connecting flights or have visited these areas, should still be quarantined.
Governor Garcia, in a separate interview, also said she would be discussing with the management of the MCIA in order to set up another set of protocols that would fit for those arriving through domestic flights.
Garcia is also in talks with shipping lines and the authorities in marine transportation like the Philippine Coast Guard and Cebu Port Authority in order to strengthen border control over Cebu’s ports./dbs
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