Garcia reviews plan to combat mystery virus

ALTHOUGH turning off the airconditioner in other facilities owned by the Cebu Provincial Government is encouraged, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said certain considerations will still have to be made before such measure is undertaken.

The governor made the pronouncement after she disclosed that the Capitol executive and legislative buildings and the Cebu South Bus Terminal will be turning off their airconditiong to combat a “mysterious” viral pneumonia linked to China and also to save on electricity bills.

“We will extend it, of course, to other Province-owned facilities such as district and provincial hospitals. But that will depend on the recommendation of the chief of hospitals,” she said on Tuesday, January 7, 2020.

Garcia explained that hospital facilities such as private rooms and operating rooms need airconditioning.

“It depends also on the environment. The Capitol was always intended to be opened and we’re also planning to plant more trees in the compound. It’s conducive for cool wind and breeze. But we will encourage other Province-owned facilities to turn off their airconditioners, depending on the recommendation,” she added.

The governor said the move will not only be “healthier” for Capitol clients and employees, but cost-efficient as well. The executive department alone spends over P1 million in electricity bills per month.

Provincial Health Officer chief Christina Giango, for her part, advised the public to avoid crowded areas, wear a face mask, keep a healthy diet and have plenty of rest. She added they are coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH)-Central Visayas on quarantine centers in Cebu should there be an outbreak.

For its part, DOH’s Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) has started implementing its heightened surveillance of airports on Saturday, January 4, for passengers coming from China.

Cases of pneumonia of unknown cause were first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. Clinical signs and symptoms are mainly fever, with a few patients having difficulty in breathing.

BOQ Cebu said that amid reports of the viral pneumonia, there has yet been no restriction on both travel and trade from other Asian countries.

Dr. Vermier Ceniza, BOQ-Cebu Station assistant chief, said they have not received any advice to restrict travelers or traders coming from China or any other areas affected by the disease.

“Even the World Health Organization did not advise for restrictions. Part of the mission is not to restrict travel and trade, but we need close monitoring,” he said.

Aside from continuous passive screening through the use of thermal cameras, BOQ Cebu was also directed to thoroughly review the submitted maritime and aircraft declaration of health to check the health status of the carriers’ passengers and personnel.

“If a traveler is found out to be having a fever, or later on shortness of breath and muscle cramps, we will pull them out for an interview. We will conduct history taking to identify his previous destinations. Then, we will do a physical exam,” Ceniza said in Cebuano.

Chinese officials, on Friday, January 3, said 11 of the 44 persons reported to be infected with the virus remain in critical condition. (RTF, WBS)