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ITALY AND IRAN INCLUDED IN MANDATORY QUARANTINE POLICY
By: Mylen P. Manto | Published Monday, March 09, 2020
An emergency meeting was held yesterday in light of the Covid-19 local transmission in Luzon. Gov. Garcia will issue an executive order to include Italy and Iran in quarantine protocols.

Those who have travel history in Italy and Iran in the last 15 days of their journey will be placed under mandatory 14-day quarantine when arriving in Cebu.

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia called for a multi-sectoral meeting following the declaration of President Rodrigo Duterte placing Philippines under a state of public health emergency.

In a press conference, Garcia, said she called for a meeting to remind everyone in the frontlines to implement strictly the existing protocols for international flights, domestic flights, for cargo vessels and passenger vessels as contained in the Executive Orders (EO) she issued to stop COVID-19 from entering Cebu. 

“As far as our international flights are concerned, we already are observing our very strict protocol of seeing to it that Filipinos arriving from international flights coming from Hongkong, Macau, China, as well as Daegu (in South Korea) shall immediately be subjected to a 14-day quarantine period. We have added further those that have come in or have passed by for the last 15 days that have visited Iran or Italy,” she said.

As of March 9, there were 7,375 cases in Italy and 366 deaths.  In Iran, there were 6,566 cases and 194 deaths. 

“So, in the health declaration form, if it can be seen that they have passed these countries they will be immediately subject to 14-day quarantine. The Bureau of Immigration (BI) will be the second line of defense. They will be examining the passports and what is stamped in there will indicate whether or not they have visited these two countries,” Garcia said. 

Garcia said despite the numbers of deaths in Italy and Iran, she will not impose a travel ban because this is beyond her powers.

“Remember we are not banning because I cannot ban. From the very start, I think we are the very first local government unit to call for a multi-sectoral assembly in order to find ways and means in which we would be able to control the entry of coronavirus to Cebu. I think I was the first to suggest the 14-day quarantine for those, at that time, would be arriving from China,” she said.

Garcia will issue an EO which will be effective March 11. This EO, she said, will be disseminated by the airlines to give due warning to those who would wish to come to Cebu that they will be under mandatory 14-day quarantine.

However, she said they would still have a choice whether to go to 14-day quarantine in the identified quarantine facilities of Cebu or take the next flight back to their port of origin. 
Garcia said they have not identified more quarantine facilities other than existing facilities. She said they have anticipated that there will be a drop in the arrivals of those coming from Iran and Italy because people will be forewarned from their point of origin that if they wish to go to Cebu, they will be subjected to quarantine. 

We have to be very vigilant here in Cebu because of the local transmission in Manila, she said.

“But at the same time, I asked everyone to stay calm. It does not help if we panic. That’s not going to scare away the virus, if you panic. It will just create another virus- the panic virus. So let us stay calm.”

Health declaration forms should be faithfully and honestly filled up to determine their travel history. Any misdeclaration warrants a fine of either P5,000 or imprisonment for one year or both, pursuant to a provincial ordinance 2020-02. 

The Philippine National Police and the Coastguard will help in securing that cargo vessels coming in, not just those from China but other ports, must also be inspected. 

A recent EOs issued by Garcia provides that passengers who have fever should be refused boarding the airport. 

“Passengers with such symptoms shall not be allowed to board the aircraft carrier bound for Cebu. The same goes for passenger vessels sa atong mga seaports. They should be refused boarding already if they have fever showing these symptoms,” she said.

Though some areas in Luzon, declared suspension of classes, the Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) are not suspending classes in Cebu because there is no local transmission of COVID-19 here.

Garcia said the DepEd and CHED think it  premature to suspend classes since classes end in 10 days.

Garcia also requested DOH-7 Director Jaime Bernadas to provide more vitamin C for the children. Bernadas assured that they have supply and if proven insufficient, they will procure more for distribution in different Barangay Health Centers. 

Bernadas also advised to take 20 pieces of calamansi juice in the morning, lunchtime, and dinner with no sugar. 

The Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (CVIRAA) meet will be postponed. 

Garcia said she requested the DepEd to refrain from activities off campus to prevent children from exposing in crowded areas. 

Meanwhile, Garcia said she and Bernadas will be holding a separate meeting with Archdiocese officials especially since the  Holy Week is near. (Mylen P. Manto)