Cebu Prepares Another Quarantine Area for COVID-19 Spillover

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Another coronavirus quarantine facility will be set up in Cebu to accommodate more Filipinos and travelers from China and areas covered by the travel ban, as reported by Rappler. The local government expects more people to be under close monitoring after the inclusion of Taiwan in the areas restricted of entry.

An evacuation area in Barangay Busay, about eight kilometers from the city center, will serve as the quarantine facility. Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said that the Provincial Health Office Head, Dr. Christina Giango, was supervising preparations there. She reiterated, however, that the area would only be used in the event that the previously identified facilities wouldn’t be able to accommodate the volume of individuals under supervision.

Cebu’s Quarantine Stations

The other quarantine stations in the province cover those identified by the Department of Health (DOH) in different local government units, namely Eversley Childs Sanitarium and General Hospital in Mandaue City, the newly constructed drug rehabilitation facility in Pinamungajan, and the Women and Children Development Center in Barangay Lahug. Combined, the three facilities can accommodate up to 250 people.

The centers were singled out after Garcia put Cebu under a state of preparedness in response to the coronavirus threat, as mentioned in this Philippine News Agency (PNA) report. The resolution allowed the provincial government to use disaster funds for supplying the needs of quarantine facilities. 

Aside from areas dedicated to visitors coming from outside the country, Cebu also has centers allocated for passengers who are local residents. City councilor Dave Tumulak passed a resolution to establish isolation rooms in every barangay. 

In Barangay Poblacion Pardo, a quarantine room equipped with two hospital beds, as well as basic equipment, such as gloves, thermometers, goggles, and N95 and surgical masks has been readied for use, ABS-CBN reported.

Home Quarantine Option

Local residents may also be referred to home quarantine. Under the government directive, the passenger’s house will be inspected to make sure that it’s fitting for quarantine, as Sunstar reported. A suitable home quarantine is one where:

  • A separate bedroom is dedicated to the isolated person
  • Other occupants of the house have personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks and gloves
  • Vulnerable people, including children, the elderly, and the sick, are not present in the house

After evaluation, a social welfare officer will submit the assessment to the quarantine team. If it passed, a designated representative will be assigned to monitor the person in question and give updates to the team. During this time, the local police and village officials will provide 24-hour security for the property. 

If the individual exhibits any signs of COVID-19 infection, they will be sent to the DOH-identified facilities. If not, authorities will give a certificate of completion, confirming that the quarantine period is over.

Safety Protocols

The mandatory quarantine follows certain procedures, starting with the mandatory health form to be submitted by passengers upon arrival, as mentioned in this Manila Bulletin news article. After that, they will be escorted immediately to an isolation room at Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA). As for their baggage, the airport personnel will be the ones to bring them to keep the quarantined individuals from being in contact with others.

At the isolation room, the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) and Bureau of Immigration (BI) will discuss the process of quarantine. From there, the passengers will be taken to the facilities or evaluated for home isolation and monitoring.

Aside from established quarantine protocols, there are also precautionary measures in MCIA’s overall operations, as stated on their website. For one, all airlines are mandated to make a standard in-flight announcement encouraging passengers to self-declare symptoms and go for a medical screening after disembarking the plane.

Passengers are also required to go through additional thermal scans on the aerobridges, on top of the existing scans at the Immigration Arrival. Furthermore, the MCIA administration placed alcohol-based hand sanitizers in aerobridges and arrival corridors to encourage disinfection. 

As for personnel support, a medical team stays on standby at the arrival area to offer information and advice to passengers. For people suspected to have infections, however, the BOQ will handle the cases. Meanwhile, wearing face masks is required for front liners or airport staff who are in direct contact with passengers upon arrival. 

To further educate passengers of the novel coronavirus, MCIA put up information materials at specific zones at Arrival and Departure. This is on top of the electronic messages displayed all over the facility. The management also vowed to make regular announcements and reminders. Passengers can rest assured that the information given is from the DOH and BOQ.

Recently, the 2019 novel coronavirus was officially named as COVID-19 by the World Health Organization.

Sources: Rappler, PNA, ABS-CBN, Sunstar, Manila Bulletin, MCIA

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