MANILA, Philippines – One of the 26 South Koreans in Cebu who flew in from Daegu, South Korea is still being tracked by the Department of Health (DOH), Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Monday, March 2.
Daegu, South Korea’s fourth-largest city, is the center of the country’s coronavirus outbreak. The 26 flew to Cebu on a direct flight from Daegu on February 25, a day before the government imposed a travel ban on South Korea after it saw a sudden spike in coronavirus cases. (READ: South Korea wages ‘all-out responses’ to virus with 586 new cases)
The following is the status of the 26 South Korean tourists, according to Vergeire:
- 15 went home to South Korea on Sunday, March 1
- 2 are going home on Monday, March 2
- 1 has gone to Angeles City, and is endorsed to the DOH Central Luzon office
- 7 are still quarantined in Cebu in their respective hotels
- 1 is “for verification”
By “verification,” Vergeire said that this meant health authorities are still trying to trace him. The man told port officials that he was staying at a particular hotel in Cebu but when the DOH went to look for him, he was not there.
In the regional press conference in Cebu also held on Monday, DOH Region 7 Director Jaime Bernadas said “everyone is accounted for” despite the unverified location of one of the 26 Korean tourists.
Bernadas said that there were “a lot of ways” the person can be traced. He said that this included the help of local governments, the provincial health office, the different branches of the Philippine National Police, the Bureaus of Investigation and Quarantine, and the private sector including hotel operators.
Bernadas said that 6 of the South Koreans still in Cebu are tourists and have expressed intention to stay longer after the 14-day quarantine period lapses.
Vergeire explained that contact tracing refers to tracking down the people who came in contact with confirmed coronavirus cases.
The Health official said that since the 26 South Koreans were not showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the 2019-nCoV, contact tracing was not required. However, since they came from a coronavirus-hit area, they still have to be monitored by the DOH as a precaution.
As of Monday, there have been 638 cases monitored in the country, although only 43 remain admitted and 592 others have already been discharged. Even with the significant decrease, the DOH said it “won’t let their guard down.” – with reports from Ryan Macasero/Rappler.com