Non-residents arriving in Cebu given quarantine options

REPATRIATES who enter the country through the Mactan-Cebu International Airport but are not residents of Cebu may undergo quarantine either in Cebu or in their home provinces.

Eight Filipinos from Taiwan arrived at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) via Eva Air on Friday morning, February 14, 2020, before the travel restrictions were lifted.

Of the eight passengers, only one is a non-resident of Cebu.

Terence Anthony Bermejo, Bureau of Quarantine-Cebu chief, said repatriated overseas Filipino workers from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Macau now have the option to undergo quarantine either in a Cebu facility or in their home provinces.

If they choose to proceed to their home provinces, Bermejo said arrangements will have to be made between the Department of Health Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (Resu) 7 and the Resu of their respective local government units.

“It is clear now that those who are not from Cebu will immediately be repatriated to their localities,” said Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.

“If they’re not from Cebu and on their way to other local government units like Davao, adto na sila (let them go). Atong dawaton lang ang dire sa Cebu (We will only accept those from Cebu),” Garcia added.

Earlier, 21 Filipino passengers from Taiwan who were quarantined in an evacuation facility in Barangay Apas, Cebu City, were flown to their hometowns in Mindanao after they constantly complained about the state of the facility.

Nine others were moved to a government center in Pinamungajan town, western Cebu which has “better infrastructure and almost a hotel-like accommodation,” according to a Capitol press release.

“The evacuation facility is now vacant. In the first place, it was never identified as a quarantine station. It was only the governor’s temporary arrangement,” explained DOH Central Visayas Director Jaime Bernadas in a phone interview with SunStar Cebu.

The 30 passengers were interned in Barangay Apas because the DOH facility and the Women and Children’s Center were already full.

Garcia placed the passengers under quarantine in accordance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to place Filipino passengers and permanent visa holders from China, its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau, and Taiwan under mandatory quarantine for 14 days, the incubation period for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Travel restrictions for Taiwan, however, were lifted Friday. How this would affect Filipinos who flew in from Taiwan and were required to undergo quarantine was unclear as of Friday.

In Mandaue City, the Covid-19 Incident Management Team recorded 31 persons under monitoring (PUMs) who were home-quarantined for 14 days. Five have completed their quarantine period as of Friday.

Mandaue City Health Office Chief Rose Marie Tirado said Mandauehanons need not be alarmed by the PUMs because they are just passengers who stopped over in countries affected by the Covid-19 en route to Cebu and they are not sick.

The Mandaue City Government has allocated P1.5 million from its Disaster Risk Reduction and Management fund for the purchase of surgical masks, eye protection shades, hazardous materials (hazmat) suits, sanitizers, and a thermal gun for the city’s 27 barangays.

Other developments

Two Badian town residents who recently flew in from Taiwan expressed dismay over alleged delays in the processing of arriving passengers at the MCIA.

Guiller Escarpe and his niece Meme Jorolan were both looking forward to coming home to Cebu, but their homecoming was far from enjoyable as soon as they arrived on Wednesday, Feb. 12 on board an Eva Air flight from Taiwan.

Jorolan was reportedly labeled as a passenger from Hong Kong, an administrative region of China, instead of her point of origin which was Taiwan.

“I agree with the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease, but they must also uphold basic human rights in the holding area. They must immediately conduct a background check and thoroughly review the entries in the arrival cards,” Escarpe said in a mix of English and Cebuano. (WBS, KFD, HBL, WITH PR / RTF)