DOTr tightens safety measures in transport hubs amid novel coronavirus scare

DOTr tightens safety measures in transport hubs amid novel coronavirus scare
The Department of Health on Jan. 30, 2020 has confirmed the first case of the 2019 Novel (new) Coronavirus, or 2019 nCoV in the Philippines.
The STAR / Rudy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation is implementing a stricter safety measures on the country’s transportation hubs after the Department of Health confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease or 2019-nCoV ARD on Thursday.

Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said the DOTr and its attached agencies have been implementing safety protocols as early as January 23.

"We have adopted measures we deem necessary to secure our transportation hubs even before the first case was recorded in the country. This development will further strengthen our resolve to reinforce our safety measures and protocols in various transport terminals, in coordination with other concerned government agencies," Tugade said.

The tightened safety measures come after the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a global health emergency.

Tugade assured the public that the transport agency is coordinating with the Department of Health and the Bureau of Quarantine to secure the country’s gateways against 2019-nCoV ARD.

Air travel

Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal also said they are in full coordination with the Bureau of Quarantine.

The MIAA set up a dedicated lane with writing desks at the arrival area for quarantine thermal screening of arriving passengers.

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said it has reactivated on all the airpots it is operating especially in international gateways such as Puerto Princesa, General Santos, Zamboanga, Davao, Kalibo, Laoag and Iloilo.

The CAAP advised airport frontline personnel to take precautionary measures like maintaining proper hygiene, regular handwashing, exercising extreme vigilance in handling passenger arrivals and strictly monitoring those who are possibly infected by the virus.

It ordered the personnel to post updated public advisories within the airport.

Last week, the Civil Aviation Board announced indefinite suspension of all air services operations between Wuhan and any point in the Philippines. It said that Kalibo, Aklan is the only point in the Philippines that directly connects to Wuhan by way of chartered flights.

Aside from this, all air carriers with China as origin or destination are required to closely monitor the events that may transpire in other Chinese cities and countries.

They are asked to ensure the protection of health and safety of their passengers.

CAB said these carries must secure from the Bureau of Quarantine copies of the Health Declaration Checklist and ensure that all passengers and members of the air crew answer it prior to disembarkation.

It said that the checklist would help the Bureau of Quarantine in tracking down passengers who would later on appear to be infected by or exposed to novel coronavirus.

“All area centers and airports, especially those with international flights, were ordered to immediately review and update their respective Airport Emergency Plans to address public health threats such as the novel coronavirus in coordination with the local Quarantine Health Office,” the DOTr said.

Maritime sector

Meanwhile, in the maritime sectors, the Philippine Ports Authorities was asked to to coordinate with quarantine office and implement strict passenger screening at arrival areas.

Jay Santiago, PPA general manager said, they are also implementing stringent security measures in sea ports especially in areas frequently visited by tourists such as Bohol and Caticlan in Aklan. It already distributed face masks and sanitizers to frontline employees.

For its part, the Philippine Coast Guard advised all medical units in its 13 Coast Guard Districts to be on high alert.

The Maritime Industry Authority also said strict health monitoring procedures are in place for people entering MARINA building.

It provided alcohol dispensers at its entrances and comfort rooms and also advised frontline personnel to wear the prescribed mask.

MARINA also sanitized all of the escalator handrails, elevators, railings and similar facilities.

It likewise advised all ship owners and operators and other concerned entities to take necessary measures to monitor the 2019-nCoV ARD.

Railways sector

On the other hand, the DOTr also directed all frontline station and security personnel of railway lines to wear appropriate face masks. They are urged to ensure that hand sanitizers and soaps are available for use in restrooms and other strategic areas inside stations.

The DOTr instructed disinfection of train interiors and station premises, particularly frequently touched surfaces that are exposed to the public.

Tugade also asked the commuters to follow the strict safety measures in place.

“As we implement preventive measures and stringent monitoring of passengers in our transportation hubs nationwide, we implore the public to cooperate with the authority and also be vigilant in their travels at all times,” the transport chief said. — Rosette Adel


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