CHO: Mouth mask, water, Vitamin C keep virus away

WEAR a mouth mask. Drink lots of water. Take Vitamin C.

THESE are some pieces of advice the Cebu City Health Office (CHO) issued on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in the wake of reports that a five-year-old boy who arrived in Cebu from China had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The boy, who arrived with his family last Jan. 12, remains confined in a hospital in Cebu City, although he no longer exhibited the flu-like symptoms associated with the coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon.

He is still suspected to have the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV) pending the release of test results from the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Australia, Department of Health (DOH) 7 Regional Director Jaime Bernadas said.

The test would determine the strain of the coronavirus present in the boy’s system.

Bernadas said the boy is not yet cleared for discharge. He is still in an isolation room with his mother, who is healthy.

Airport measures

Meanwhile, at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC) immediately began implementing measures to control the potential spread and transmission of 2019 nCoV.

Airport personnel operating the thermal scanners at the disembarkation area are on the lookout for arriving passengers with unusual body temperature.

MCIA has direct flights to Macau, Hong Kong and to the China cities of Guangzhou, Xiamen, Jinjiang, Chengdu, Shanghai, Shenzen, Nanjing and Hangzhou.


CHO officer-in-charge Daisy Villa advised everyone to take precautions.

Aside from putting on a mouth mask and drinking lots of water, one should also avoid having physical contact with people who have respiratory infections, she said.

Also, one should practice covering his mouth when he sneezes or coughs, and washing his hands every so often, she said.

A disposable mouth mask costs about P25, while an N95 mask, which filters particulates, costs P50 in pharmacies.

Villa also advised against eating half-cooked food, and those with persistent cough and flu to see a doctor.

On Wednesday, the Cebu City Council formed a “coronavirus task force” and asked the 80 barangay councils to set up their own isolation or quarantine rooms in case they need to put in a constituent with a respiratory problem.

Voluntary screening

Andrew Harrison, GMCAC Megawide Cebu Airport Corp., called a press conference to update the public on the airport measures being adopted.

He said airlines have been advised to make a standard-flight announcement prior to landing at the MCIA advising passengers experiencing flu-like symptoms to declare themselves and voluntarily submit to a medical screening by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) upon disembarkation.

The BOQ also intensified its thermal scanning by taking more thermal scans of passenger body temperatures on aerobridges of all flights arriving directly from China. This is in addition to the thermal scanning at the immigration arrival level.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also placed in all aerobridges and arrival corridors.

Liquid disinfectant is sprayed in the aerobridges prior to each flight arrival.

All airport frontliners (those ground-handling staff and security screening officers) are also required to wear surgical masks.

As of now, Harrison said, the World Health Organization has no advisory on travel or trade restrictions yet.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more serious infections such as Mers-Cov and Sars-Cov.

The new coronavirus strain, which officials described as 80 percent similar to Sars-Cov, was first reported in Wuhan, China on Dec. 31, 2019.

The Associated Press reported that as of Wednesday, Jan. 22, nine people had died and more than 400 people had been confirmed infected in China. (JJL, WBS)