The Bureau of Immigration suspended the processing of Visa Upon Arrival to Chinese nationals coming from Wuhan, China to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus that originated from Wuhan, China which already claimed 41 lives and infected nearly 1,300 people.
READ: China isolates 13 cities
At the same time, a Brazilian family of three had been placed at the isolation room of a hospital in Puerto Princesa after showing flu-like symptoms following a recent trip to Wuhan.
The couple and their 10-year-old boy went for a checkup at the rural health unit of tourist haven El Nido on
Friday, said Dr. Audie Cipriano, medical professional staff chief at the Ospital ng Palawan.
READ: Virus quarantine vast as toll rises
Upon initial check, the child had a fever while the father had a sore throat. They were immediately transported to the Ospital ng Palawan in Puerto Princesa at 1 a.m. Saturday and immediately placed at the isolation room for examination.
While the parents had no fever, their child had to be confined after showing respiratory symptoms including difficulty breathing and fever, according to hospital authorities.
The family had to be isolated given their history of travel in Wuhan, a Chinese transport hub of 11 million people now on lockdown to arrest the spread of the disease.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente has cancelled the VUAs of 25 Chinese nationals who came from Wuhan City, China and ordered to stop the processing of VUA applications from Chinese citizens who are residents or travelled to Wuhan.
The BI launched the VUA program in 2017 for Chinese nationals as part of the government’s bid to boost tourism and investment in the Philippines.
According to the Department of Tourism, arrivals from China increased by 40.4 percent to 492,974 in the first half of 2019.
Chinese tourist arrivals accounted for some 13.6 percent of the total foreign tourist arrivals in the country.
According to reports, the Chinese government placed Wuhan under lockdown, and this was followed by the neighboring city of Huanggang who also announced a lockdown.
Reports also said that two other cities in Hubei province, Ezhou and Chibi, announced that they would also be locked down to stop the spread of the disease.
Severe control measures have been enforced by the BI, Manila International Airport Authority, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Bureau of Quarantine and Bureau of Customs to stop virus outbreak.
Meanwhile, party-list lawmakers on Saturday called on the Duterte administration to implement an efficient health screening, surveillance and monitoring of individuals or groups coming from areas infected by the new coronavirus.
The new coronavirus strain originated in Wuhan in Hubei late last year, has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
“What we need to ensure is for people not be paranoid or panicky due to this disease. We already dealt with this type of situation before when SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), killed nearly 800 people mostly from mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003 and this was so close to the Philippines but we were able to contain it,” House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said.
Zarate said the government must be able to ensure adequate preparations- supplies, medicines, facilities, adequate personnel and budget like when we dealt with SARS so as to restrict its entry in the country and contain it, if it does.
“The frontline agencies, like the DOH, airport and seaport authorities, immigration, should be very pro-active in instituting preventive measures now,” said Zarate.
READ: Major SARS-like outbreak feared amid third death outside of China
READ: Public warned: No cure for n-CoV; only hygiene
READ: From bats to humans? Analysis shows possible sources of virus
Gaite, for his part, stressed the need for mechanisms that will enable the government to deal with the problem in case the 2019 Novel coronavirus hit the country.
“We need adequate preparations and effective response and we hope that they are now in place,” Gaite said.
On Friday, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said there had been no confirmed case of the new coronavirus in the Philippines as patients who had presented symptoms were cleared of the disease.
At the same time, a boy from Wuhan in Cebu was declared clear of the virus on Friday, the Department of Health said.
The test was conducted by the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne after the boy tested positive for the non-specific pancoronavirus assay in an initial test in the Philippines.
An unidentified flight attendant at the airport was also reported to have placed herself in
“self-quarantine” after exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus.
READ: Virus epicenter shut-off
READ: WHO says no global crisis yet; Duque piqued