Nalzaro: A crazy idea on local travel ban

Bobby Nalzaro

“I don’t agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” — Voltaire (French historian and writer whose real name was Francois Marie-Arouet, 1694-1778)

I MAY appear parochial, regionalistic, narrow-minded or funny in this suggestion, but it is my right to say this. I am floating this crazy thought to help contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease or Covid-19. When this epidemic surfaced in mainland China, we imposed a travel ban on Chinese nationals from the mainland and from its administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau.

Then followed by Taiwan, although it was lifted immediately after the Taiwanese government reacted “violently” as it has repercussions on the deployment of thousands of oversees Filipino workers (OFW) there. Then we banned the South Koreans especially from Daegu City and Gyeongsang Province. We imposed the 14-day mandatory quarantine period for passengers from those countries affected by the virus even though they just made a brief stopover in these countries. Now, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia wants arriving passengers from Italy and Iran to undergo the same mandatory quarantine procedure. If they will refuse, they will face immediate deportation.

As of this writing, Italy has 7,375 reported cases and its government has already imposed a lockdown on its residents. Lockdown means a state of isolation or restricted access instituted as a security measure. Iran has almost 7,161 cases or about one in every 12,000 people in its population with 237 deaths.

The other night, President Rodrigo Duterte said he was not for now inclined to impose a lockdown on Metro Manila to control the spread of the coronavirus. We have not reached that kind of contamination. There will be a time, I suppose. I hope not. I hope God will have mercy on the Filipino people. “It’s too early,” he said. But when is the time, Mr. President? When everything is already uncontrollable?

Qatar has included the Philippines in its travel ban. The Department of Health (DOH) reported as of Tuesday, some 33 confirmed cases, all in Metro Manila. The President has ordered classes suspended in Metro Manila until this weekend to spare school children from being infected with the virus. No classes, but what are our health and education authorities doing? They are not even conducting a massive disinfection in schools. Japan and some other countries suspended and cut short their classes while conducting a massive disinfection campaign in their school classrooms and grounds. But where we are, no action has been taken. When classes resume next week, it will be the same scenario.

As of this time, Hong Kong has only 74 cases, while Macau has only 10 and yet our government has never lifted the travel ban. The apprehension is that residents from mainland China will come here via Macau and Hong Kong.

Has the Philippine situation on Covid 19 already reached an alarming proportion? I think so because the government, through the Department of Health, already declared the country under a State of Public Health Emergency. And in view of this, following the same policy we adopted from people from those Covid-19 infected countries, why doesn’t our government also order a travel ban or mandatory quarantine of people coming from the National Capital Region (NCR) visiting other parts of the country?

All of the Covid-19 cases are in Metro Manila. So, to prevent it from spreading to the Visayas, especially in Cebu where there are no reported cases and other parts of the country, we might as well impose a travel or mandatory quarantine for people from Metro Manila. Maayo kaha ni? Estrikto ta sa uban unya sa taga ato, dili? Naa na goy local transmission ang virus dinhi. Morag masuko ang taga Manila nato ani da. Kita na poy dili paadtuon sa kauluhan. Nayabag na.