The multi-sectoral task force on coronavirus will implement the same quarantine protocol imposed on returning Filipinos and other passengers from North Gyeongsang, South Korea, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said.
Garcia said the national government’s Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease has approved the entry ban of Korean nationals from the Korean province.
But as a policy, Filipino passengers and holders of permanent visas who will be coming from North Gyeongsang Province will be allowed entry but subjected to mandatory 14-day quarantine and will either be taken to a quarantine facility or sent for home quarantine.
Garcia called for an emergency meeting with Department of Health (DOH) regional director, Dr. Jaime Bernadas, Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) regional chief, Dr. Terrence Bermejo and Provincial Health Officer Christina Giango Wednesday night to discuss the new protocol.
Garcia told reporters that she will hold the issuance of another executive order because the issue continues to develop and there is a possibility that the national government will extend its ban outside North Gyeongsang province.
“We are trying to prepare for that possibility, because (Press Secretary Salvador) Panelo said they will assess the situation within 48 hours,” she said. She was referring to Panelo’s earlier announcement that there was a possibility for the national government to extend the ban to other parts of South Korea, even outside North Gyeongsang province.
In a press conference following the meeting, Bermejo said daily flights from Daegu City to Cebu have already been canceled. Daegu is just one of the 10 cities in North Gyeongsang Province where 1,146 cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) were reported.
Before the announcement of the ban, there were 26 Korean tourists that arrived from Daegu on Tuesday night. They are now considered persons under monitoring (PUMs).
Bermejo said authorities are already tracking these passengers.
Once found, they will be advised to either stay in their hotels on self-quarantine and refrain from mingling with the public, he said.
They also have a choice to go home, except those found with symptoms who will be immediately sent to the hospital and treated as persons under investigation (PUI), he added.
Bernadas, for his part, said PUIs, including tourists or non-residents, will only be allowed to go home once they are cleared from their symptoms and the virus.
“It’s easy to track them down because they have filled-up declaration forms at the airport with their addresses or hotels,” Bermejo said.
Bermejo said that with the ban, passengers from North Gyeongsang province will not be quarantined, as non-residents or incoming tourists will no longer be allowed entry and will be sent back on the next available flight.
“Wala kaayo (Not so much) Filipinos coming from Daegu,” he said.
As of February 26, some 16 countries that have already imposed travel ban on South Korea.
Garcia said the provincial government does not want to be surprised with arriving Koreans only to tell them they are banned from entering the province.
”Then we will have to scramble for additional quarantine space nga atong butangan (that will put in place),” Garcia added.
Bermejo said as of today, there are almost 700 arrivals to Cebu from all over Korea.
Garcia said the province is already preparing for more passengers to be housed in its quarantine facilities if the national government decides to expand the ban order.
She clarified that Cebuano arrivals will be prioritized while those coming from other provinces will be referred to their respective local government units.
Last February 5, the governor issued Executive Order (EO) No. 5 establishing the provincial preparedness and contingency plan which includes guidelines of the mandatory quarantine for travelers coming from China, Macao and Hong Kong. (PNA)