LOCAL health authorities have found the 26 South Korean nationals who flew in from Daegu City, North Gyeongsang province on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.
Jaime Bernadas, director of the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas, said most of them are staying in hotels in Lapu-Lapu City.
“We’ve already identified them. For now, we’re treating them as PUMs (persons under monitoring). We’ll confine them in hotels as we wait for developments while they revise the protocol to cover those areas that will be included in the travel ban,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
PUMs are those persons who came from a place affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and/or have contacts with infected persons but do not manifest symptoms of the disease that include fever, cough and colds.
Patients under investigation (PUIs) are those who manifest symptoms of the disease.
Bernadas said there is no need to impose a lockdown in the places where the foreigners are staying since they will be subjected to a 14-day quarantine and will not be allowed to move around.
A day after the South Korean tourists arrived in Cebu, the Philippine Government announced a travel ban on Filipinos going to South Korea and travelers from North Gyeongsang from coming to the Philippines.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease approved the twin ban due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the South Korean province.
Only permanent residents of South Korea or those studying or working there will be allowed to travel to the East Asian country.
Filipinos and their foreign spouses or children and holders of permanent resident and diplomatic visas traveling from South Korea will be allowed entry to the Philippines.
As of 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, 60 of the 61 PUIs in Central Visayas had been discharged but were still being monitored.
In its latest Covid-19 tracker, the DOH reported that only one PUI is still confined and undergoing treatment in the region.
No new confirmed Covid-19 patients were confined anywhere in the country although the DOH continues to monitor a total of 615 cases nationwide.
Of the number, 548 were discharged from medical facilities but are still being monitored by DOH, while 64 PUIs remain in isolation in various hospitals.
The only three confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country — the 38-year-old woman from Wuhan, China; her 44-year-old male partner who died; and the 60-year-old Chinese woman who already returned to China — were included in the tally.
Globally, the viral outbreak that began in China has infected 82,000 people.
Meanwhile, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella wants the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to monitor vessels from South Korea.
Since the PCG, in coordination with the Bureau of Quarantine, already has its own protocol, Labella requested the two offices to include vessels from South Korea in addition to China, Macau and Hong Kong in their monitoring.
In a letter to PCG Central Visayas commander Joseph Badajos, Labella requested him not to allow ships to dock unless their crew tested negative for symptoms of Covid-19.
He also asked the BOQ to help the PCG screen the crew of ships that are set to dock in the ports of Cebu City.
Labella said authorities have been too focused on airports, adding that seaports should also be a major concern. (WBS With AP, JJL)