Members of the Provincial Interagency Task Force on COVID-19, led by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, meet at the Capitol to discuss updates on the 26 Korean tourists who arrived in Cebu from Daegu City in North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea a day before a travel ban was imposed.
Photo Courtesy of Capitol PIO
Tourists under watch for COVID-19: 7 Koreans ‘missing’
Lorraine L. Ecarma (The Freeman) - February 29, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Seven Korean tourists who are considered persons under monitoring (PUMs) for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been declared missing by the provincial interagency task force after they were not found in the hotels they identified in their health declaration cards upon arrival at the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

They were among the 26 South Koreans who arrived from Daegu City in North Gyeongsang Province of South Korea on Tuesday, February 25, a day before an official travel ban on travelers from the place was declared by the Philippine authorities.

In a press conference yesterday, the provincial task force on COVID-19 announced that they are now coordinating with the Korean Consulate and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to locate the whereabouts of these PUMs so they may be checked and put on a 14-day mandatory quarantine.

 “We are calling on the PNP to assist in locating these seven. We have their identities, the airport authorities have the telephone numbers and the DOH (Department of Health) is also coordinating with the Vice Consul of Korea in order to locate the seven,” Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said.

Four of the unaccounted PUMs are females and three are males.

“They should be located and they should be identified so that if they will have symptoms, we could immediately send them to the hospitals and we could also identify where they have been going,” said DOH-7 director Dr. Jaime Bernadas.

Penalties for falsified information

Following the falsified information provided by the seven tourists in their health declaration cards, the members of the task force agreed to strengthen the implementation of the Provincial Ordinance No. 2020-02 penalizing the falsification of information on health declaration cards. Individuals who input wrong information will be made to pay a fine of P5,000 or one year imprisonment.

“This should be a warning. With the help of the GMR, we shall be revising the health declaration forms for all international arrivals as well as domestic arrivals from any point in the country with the question on whether or not they have visited North Gyeongsang or Daegu and with the warning that any false declaration shall be subject to penalty or imprisonment,” Garcia said.

The 19 other tourists who were in the same flight from Daegu City are now under quarantine in their respective hotel rooms. They are being closely monitored by PNP members, barangay tanods, and hotel management. They are also checked twice a day by DOH personnel.

They were also given the option whether to proceed with the 14-day mandatory quarantine protocols or to be sent back to Daegu City.

The DOH, however, clarified that none of the 19 tourists have exhibited any flu-like symptoms. In case they do, Bernadas said they will no longer have the option to go back to the South Korean City but will be sent to the hospital.

Mandatory quarantine

Meanwhile, Garcia signed Executive Order 5-C yesterday which extends the mandatory quarantine for any incoming passengers (Filipino and permanent visa-holders) directly from or in the last 14 days, have been in North Gyeongsang Province.

Currently, there are nine persons under investigation (PUIs) or individuals from infected countries who have exhibited flu-like symptoms in Central Visayas. The number of PUMs in the region has also reached 194.  FPL (FREEMAN)

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