Governor to meet key execs

Lorraine L. Ecarma (The Freeman) - January 25, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia is set to meet with officials of key agencies that can help prevent the spread of the new strain of coronavirus in the province.

This despite the recent update that the five-year-old boy from Wuhan, China who visited Cebu and who earlier tested positive of a strain of the virus tested negative in a second test.

 The Department of Health has clarified, though, that a third and final swab test will have to be made before the boy can be declared officially as virus-free and discharged from the hospital.

Dr. Van Phillip Baton of DOH-7, coordinator for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, said the other day that the boy has shown signs of recovery – no fever, no cough, or other symptoms related to the virus.

Garcia said yesterday she will schedule a meeting with the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), the Department of Health (DOH)-7, and the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) to discuss possible, stricter preventive measures.

The meeting may also include the Department of Foreign Affairs, she said.

“I've been going over it in my mind on how the province could act, given the limitations that we have as regards to the prevention of entry," Garcia said.

Garcia said, however, that disallowing flights from China from entering Cebu is not an option, as doing so would entail negative implications on Cebu's international relations. The airport plays a big role in prevention, she said.

The Mactan Cebu International Airport has temperature monitors that check passengers that have just arrived. The Bureau of Quarantine-7 has also fielded additional 20 nurses and four doctors at the airport.

"Right now, dako kaayo ug role ang airport because other than naming flights from China which we cannot do, a lot depends on the MCIAA authorities (Right now, the airport has a very big role… since we can’t disallow flights from China, a lot depends on the MCIAA authorities)," Garcia said.

She said she is considering the creation of a committee or a task force for surveillance and monitoring of cases similar to that of the five-year-old boy but Dr. Christina Giango, head of the Provincial Health Office (PHO), said this may not be necessary.

She said an Incident Command System (ICS) in charge of coordinating with hospitals, logistics, and surveillance, which the governor heads, is already in place.

"Every provincial health office, every office like city health office… is in place na gyud nya we’re working closely with DOH," Giango said.

The DOH has declared code white, which puts health offices and hospitals on alert on similar cases of coronavirus.

Giango also reminded the public that coronavirus is a spectrum that varies from the common cold to more serious strains like Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS CoV) and Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS CoV).

She reminded the public to maintain proper hygiene, refrain from lingering in public places, to maintain cough etiquette and to get sufficient rest.

The World Health Organization, DOH said, has maintained that the current cases show a pattern of limited human to human contact. This means that infection can be transmitted but under certain conditions, such as sustained close contact with confirmed cases.

Samples from the five-year-old boy have yielded negative results for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus (SARS-CoV).

The novel coronavirus has already claimed nine lives and infected 400 others in China.  JMO (FREEMAN)

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