Camiguin restricts entry of travelers from China, Hong Kong, Macau over coronavirus threat
CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Camiguin Island will now restrict the entry of foreign tourists with travel history to China, Hong Kong, and Macau in the last 3 months as a precautionary measure against the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
With summer just around the corner, Camiguin is expecting an influx of tourists, from 50,000 per month to a peak of 80,000 during Holy Week.
Camiguin Governor Jurdin Jesus Romualdo on January 31 issued Executive Order (EO) No. 5, which requires every tourist to disclose their travel history in the last 3 months prior to their arrival in the island.
The EO was issued days earlier than the national government's expanded ban on travelers from the 3 countries.
Tourists from other countries who merely had a layover in China, Hong Kong, and Macau will also not be allowed to enter the island. According to the governor, they simply followed the President's order not to allow even those with a layover in China to enter the country.
Romualdo said that they have deployed screeners in Camiguin Airport and two ports to individually interview foreign tourists about their travel history.
In January, a tourist in the island was put in isolation and considered a person under investigation for the novel coronavirus. The tourist tested negative for the virus.
There were at least 130 Chinese tourists in Camiguin in the last week of January.
"The province of Camiguin is one of the tourist destinations in the Philippines, making the introduction of the disease in the province a high probability," Romualdo said.
He said they cannot take chances in allowing tourists with travel history to the 3 countries.
The island province also created a novel coronavirus task force to implement measures that will prevent the virus from entering the island.
"It is important that precautionary measures and protocol are established to monitor the presence of the disease and make a timely response if it arises," Romualdo said.
Romualdo said they instructed and trained hotel staff to report tourists suspected to have the novel coronavirus to the Camiguin Provincial Health Office and the Camiguin General Hospital. They also asked hotels to refund accommodation bookings made by Chinese tourists even before coming to the island.
"We have met with hotel operators and asked for their cooperation," Romualdo said.
EO covers residents, too
The EO also covers residents in the island who have travel history to China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
"This requirement is also mandatory to every resident of Camiguin who has [traveled] to places where [the] novel coronavirus has been proven to exist," the EO stated.
It requires residents with travel history to undergo a medical check-up.
Romualdo said the government can prosecute any person found to have willfully hidden such required information when demanded. The person shall be subject to investigation and applicable criminal prosecution.
Meanwhile in Cagayan de Oro City, Mayor Oscar Moreno thumbed down a proposal to put a business park on lockdown following hearsay of Chinese residents who supposedly have the novel coronavirus.
Earlier this week, Councilor George Goking proposed that the city's 2019-nCoV task force order a lockdown on the Alwana Business Park in Barangay Cugman. Some Chinese citizens working in Cagayan de Oro City are living in the business park's residential buildings.
A fake news circulated this week that there was a Chinese who died in one of the hotels because of the novel coronavirus. The City Health Office and the Department of Health conducted an inspection and found nothing.
"The task force did not really push through with the idea due to legal implications," Goking told reporters here.
Goking said that he would request it if the Alwana Business Park management refuses to cooperate with government agencies who may be conducting an ocular inspection there.
Moreno said he will not be restricting the movement of people and vehicles in and out of the complex just because Chinese nationals are living there.
"Just because they are Chinese, [does not mean] we have to look at them differently," Moreno said in a radio interview.
"You don't order [a] lockdown simply because of the race issue. It's not doable. What we need is simply communication, and, of course, they have been very cooperative. Let's not jump to conclusions just because they're Chinese." Moreno added.
The novel coronavirus that originated from Wuhan, China, has so far killed 564 and sickened over 28,000 people across the country and worldwide. The World Health Organization already declared an international emergency over the virus.
In the Philippines, 3 patients were confirmed to be infected with the novel coronavirus, one of whom died after complications due to severe pneumonia. – Rappler.com