Cebu towns, cities battle 2019 coronavirus

Rona T. Fernandez

COMPONENT towns and cities in Cebu have begun taking measures against the spread of coronavirus pending the issuance of an executive order (EO) from the Provincial Government that will provide a unified approach to the issue of keeping Cebu safe from infection.

Daanbantayan Mayor Sun Shimura on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, issued a memorandum requiring all visitors, especially those in Malapascua Island, to fill in a passenger manifesto upon arrival at the Maya New Roro Port that will provide more information about the passengers such as their nationality, country of origin and details on where they will be staying while in Daanbantayan.

Tourists of the northern town will also be subjected to a thermal scan through spot pyrometers before they are allowed to leave port.

Persons manifesting symptoms of respiratory illness such as fever, cough and colds will be made to undergo additional screening, according to Shimura’s memorandum.

They will also be advised to stay in isolation while contact with other people will be restricted.

Shimura also directed resorts to secure data on their guests’ travel histories, itinerary and passports 15 days prior to their arrival in Daanbantayan.

Should the guests come from Wuhan City, China, ground zero of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), they will be advised to refrain from public exposure.

Daanbantayan is known for its pristine, white powder-like sandy beaches.

Malapascua Island, in particular, has become a popular haven for scuba divers aiming to encounter thresher sharks.

The Maya New Port is the town’s lone designated point of entry and exit for people headed to the islets.

In his official Facebook account, Shimura asked the public to help spread awareness on coronavirus instead of posting fake reports online.

“If you see people violating the memo or people arriving in our islets through other ports, kindly report immediately to the Municipal Government. Again, we don’t have recorded patients positive of the 2019-nCoV in our country and in Cebu. Let us pray for protection from Señor Sto. Niño,” Shimura said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Approximately 251.8 kilometers from Daanbantayan in the town of Oslob, a favorite tourist hub for its whale shark watching activities, officials have launched an information campaign on coronavirus at the community level.

“Through our rural health officers, we’re educating our people. If we don’t inform them properly, they will easily believe hearsay, which can cause panic,” Oslob Mayor Jose Tumulak Jr. said in Cebuano.

Tumulak said Chinese nationals remain the town’s top foreign visitors who usually flock to Oslob during the Chinese New Year festivities to spend their long holiday break.

The towns of Consolacion and San Remigio and the cities of Talisay, Naga and Bogo have posted regular health advisories on coronavirus in their official social media pages.

On the other hand, the Mandaue City Health Office bared plans to create an Incident Management Team (IMT) that will draw up measures to help prevent the entry of coronavirus into the city.

The IMT to be headed by City Health Officer Rose Marie Ouano-Tirado will be composed of barangay health officers and members of the Mandaue City Health Board headed by Mayor Jonas Cortes.

Aside from wearing surgical masks, the public is advised to practice frequent handwashing, avoid unprotected contact with farm or wild animals, practice proper cough etiquette, avoid close contact with people showing cold or flu-like symptoms and ensure that food is well cooked.

Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino has called Department of Health 7 Director Jaime Bernadas to a meeting on Thursday, Jan. 30 to determine the need for closer coordination among agencies dealing with the threat of the 2019-nCoV considering the number of agencies and local government units involved in current public health initiatives.

Following a meeting with various agencies earlier this week, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said she will issue an EO on measures to guard against coronavirus backed by a provincial ordinance. (RTF, MVG, KFD)