DOH -7, Hotel owners: Cebu is safe

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Reporter/CDN Digital | February 29,2020 - 06:00 AM

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu is safe for tourism activities and travel.

Carlo Anton Suarez

Carlo Anton Suarez, president of HRRACI. | CDN Digital Photo by Morexette Marie B. Erram

Officers from the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH – 7), and the Hotel Resort and Restaurants Association in Cebu (HRRAC) made this assurance at a press conference on February 28, 2020 in a hotel in Mandaue City.

This developed after reports circulated that some hotels in Metro Cebu were allegedly unsafe for occupancy due to the presence of South Korean travellers who came from Daegu City.

DOH-7 and HRRAC, however, refuted these claims, and said guests coming into Cebu and staying in hotels had nothing to worry about.

26 Koreans asymptomatic

Dr. Van Philip Baton, medical program coordinator for infectious diseases of DOH- 7, told members of the media that the 26 South Koreans from Daegu City were asymptomatic, and had been advised to stay in their respective hotel rooms.

“Cebu, and Central Visayas for that matter, is safe. We would like to tell everyone that sharing and posting of unverified claims on social media should never be the cause of cancellations of bookings,” Baton said.

Dr. Van Philip Baton

Dr. Van Philip Baton, medical program coordinator for infectious diseases of DOH – 7. | CDN Digital Photo by Morexette Marie B. Erram

HRRAC President Carlo Suarez, for his part, said all hotels in Cebu were safe, adding that quarantine and health screening protocols were placed for all guests, including those who recently came from Daegu City.

“We would like to reiterate that HRRAC is closely coordinating with DOH, the Capitol, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) regarding health protocols, and that we are all on top of this situation,” said Suarez.

Daegu City in North Gyeongsang province is the epicenter of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in South Korea.

The Inter-Agency Task Force in Emerging Infectious Disease (IAFT-EID) imposed a travel ban in North Gyeongsang province last February 26 due to the spike of COVID-19 cases there.

Outbound Filipino travelers, however, are not allowed to enter the entire South Korean country until further notice.

Koreans from Daegu

Hours before the ban was implemented, 26 South Koreans from Daegu City  landed in the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA).

DOH-7 classified them as Persons Under Monitoring (PUMs) since they came from a country infected with COVID-19, and covered with a travel ban.

The Central Visayas bureau of the state’s health department said that these travelers were staying in hotels based in Lapu-Lapu City, and Cebu City, and placed under self-quarantine.

DOH-7 did not disclose the names of the hotels but a photo apparently showing the letter from their agency made the rounds online on February 28, revealing the names of the tourists, and the hotels they were staying on.

HRRAC refused to validate the veracity of the photo, stating that they did not have the authority to do so. DOH-7, on the other hand, said it was subject to validation.

“The reason why we don’t immediately release information such as this since it is still subject for further validation. And we don’t want to give out unverified information to avoid unnecessary panic,” said Baton.

Cancelled Bookings

Suarez said they received reports from their members that the post also led to several booking cancellations, and made hoteliers in Cebu worried.

“The post was discouraging people not to book or stay in these hotels. Again, Cebu is safe and our hotels are also safe to stay (in),” he said.

The HRRAC president also said their group had tapped the assistance of the Anti-Cybercrime Unit to look into the post. Suarez also said they were considering to take legal actions.

“Our legal counsel is now looking into the matter,” said Suarez.

There are over 100 members of HRRAC./dbs

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TAGS: COVID-19, Daegu City, DOH-7, HRRAC

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