Coronavirus: 78 Filipino passengers from Taiwan refuse quarantine in Cebu

Ryan Macasero
Coronavirus: 78 Filipino passengers from Taiwan refuse quarantine in Cebu
The passengers are apparently in transit when the Philippines issues a clarification that Taiwan is among the countries included in the travel ban

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Seventy-eight passengers have been held at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) since Tuesday, February 11, for refusing quarantine when they arrived. (READ: Taiwan covered by travel ban due to novel coronavirus – DOH)

The passengers were apparently in the air – or on a quick transit – when the Philippines issued a clarification on Monday, February 10, that Taiwan was among the countries included in the travel ban on China and its special administrative regions due to the novel coronavirus or Covid-19.

The Philippines and the World Health Organization consider Taiwan as a part of China. Taiwan denounced its inclusion in the travel ban shortly after the announcement, asserting it is an independent state.

MCIA manager Steve Dicdican told reporters in a chance interview, streamed by local newspaper The Freeman, that the passengers were upset when they disembarked from their flight because they did not know about the clarification until they arrived in Cebu.

He said they protested the mandatory quarantine. Another staff member described the passengers as “enraged.” 

“This started yesterday (Tuesday), a lot of them were transiting only from Taiwan. They’re in the holding room. We’re trying to convince them to go on 14-day quarantine,” Dicdican said

Filipinos are not included in the ban, but in Cebu province, arriving passengers from banned countries must undergo a 14-day quarantine period. (READ: Cebu readies another quarantine area amid coronavirus threat)

According to Dicdican, majority of them were only transiting in Taiwan.

Many of the passengers are also not from Metro Cebu, and outside of areas where Department of Health can inspect if they are qualified for home quarantine.

To be qualified for home quarantine, a Bureau of Quarantine officer has to check if anyone living in the household might be susceptible to catching the virus.

Currently, there is space for 250 in the quarantine facilities prepared by the province of Cebu and the Department of Health.

Cebu is a major tourist destination in the country. All 3 of the confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the country passed through Cebu en route to other destinations. One of them became the first Covid-19 death outside of China.

There are 54 patients under investigation by the DOH in Central Visayas for possible exposure to Covid-19. 

According to Dicdican, the passengers are being fed by the Cebu provincial government, and none are exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

The airport has been under a state of emergency since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus an international emergency on January 31.

The airport manager said they would continue convincing the passengers to go under quarantine. –

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.