Espinoza: Monitor the 8 Daegu City travelers

Elias Espinoza

THE coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is no longer a scare. It’s a reality that everyone should be afraid of. Extra precautions in our daily activities, either social or occupational. Washing our hands with soap or putting on sanitizer regularly is not enough. The government should encourage people to avoid huge crowds and discourage holding events that gather throngs of people.

I know the last suggestion is unpopular or unacceptable to big businesses like malls and hotels. As a matter of fact, the hotel industry is already affected by the coronavirus threat after our government restricted the entry of tourists from China, Hong Kong, Macau and South Korea. Hotels have been forced to lower accommodation rates.

Our Department of Health (DOH), which some developed countries don’t consider sufficiently equipped to handle Covid-19, has been doing its job relentlessly. But what is sometimes undiscerning is the contradicting statements from DOH officials on how they handle travelers from countries infected with Covid-19.

Daegu City, South Korea, where several cases have been reported, has not restricted its residents from traveling. The Korean government only encouraged its citizens to stay home to avoid getting infected. But some 26 tourists from Daegu City arrived in Cebu on Feb. 25 before our government imposed the selective travel ban.

Health authorities ended up having to search for the 26 travelers to determine if they were couriers of the deadly virus and to monitor their state of health. They came in before our health authorities issued the travel ban on travelers from Daegu City.

In SunStar Cebu’s banner story on Tuesday, March 3, DOH 7 Jaime Bernadas, during a press conference on Monday, declared the 26 Korean tourists healthy. “Everybody is accounted for. All of them did not develop any symptoms. Therefore, we could safely assure that they are all healthy as of today,” he said.

But didn’t the DOH issue a statement that the virus is asymptomatic? Which simply means that a person infected with Covid-19 will not show any signs of sickness until the person is diagnosed with the virus. I am not an alarmist, just pragmatic. Just think of it, of the 26 Koreans from Daegu City eight are still here in Cebu since 17 already returned to South Korea.

Just because these 26 travelers from Daegu City arrived in Cebu before the travel ban doesn’t necessarily mean they are safe from the virus. Yes, they may appear healthy, Director Bernadas, but that is not what your office told the public how the virus affects and transmits to persons.

On the other hand, where are the eight Koreans from Daegu City who stayed behind? Are they in a quarantine? If we count the 14-day quarantine period that the DOH has imposed, the 14th day for these Koreans is March 9 since they arrived on Feb. 25. Today (Wednesday) is March 4, hence, there are still six days before the 14th day. We could say these eight Koreans who stayed behind could have been infected and should be strictly monitored.

Of course, we should be thankful to the Lord God for keeping us safe from all kinds of calamities and epidemic like the Covid-19. Despite its unprecedented spread in other countries, not a single Filipino right here in our country has died of it.

God is good all the time!