Cebu to restrict inbound travel over COVID-19 threat

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Cebu City (CNN Philippines, March 14) — Cebu will restrict inbound travel in 72 hours, its governor announced, with the province planning to ban the entry of anyone coming in from any port or seaport, in response to the threat of COVID-19.

The provincial government is gradually rolling out restrictions, with the first one being a ban on anyone flying in from Clark International Airport in Pampanga, Legazpi City Airport in Albay, Cagayan De Oro City and Dumaguete City, as these are entry points to Luzon and Mindanao which have reported patients with COVID-19.

“There is a necessity to support efforts of Metro Manila in order to further suppress the spread of COVID-19,” read Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s executive order, issued Saturday to enforce the inbound travel ban.

Garcia still plans to issue an executive order to ban anyone from Dumaguete City from entering Cebu beginning March 15, and to ban all ferry passengers from the ports of San Carlos City, Guihulngan City, and Escalante City in Negros Oriental from entry starting March 16.

She also plans to ban flights from Cebu to any part of the Philippines starting March 16.

While the movement of people will be restricted, cargo and supplies will be allowed into Cebu, subject to stringent measures.

Garcia said this is not a lockdown as people can still travel out of the province — they just cannot go back in.

She added that the provincial government is still awaiting for new guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases before taking any action on international flights.

The Central Visayas police will monitor the boundaries of Cebu. Central Visayas police chief BGen. Albert Ferro assures that they have enough policemen to deploy at all seaports and at the airport.

The number of patients who have contracted COVID-19 in the country has topped 100, with the Health Department confirming 47 new cases on Sunday. Eight people have died because of the disease, bringing its fatality rate to seven percent — above the global average of between three to four percent.

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, which is related to the virus which causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, but is not as deadly, with the fatality rate standing at around three percent.

According to the WHO, 80 percent of patients only experience “mild illness” and eventually recover. It added that some 14 percent experience severe illness while five percent were critically ill.

The disease is spread through small droplets from the nose or mouth when people infected with the virus cough or sneeze.

To prevent infection, authorities are urging people to practice regular hand washing, cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid close contact with those who show respiratory symptoms.

Commonly reported COVID-19 symptoms are fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. Those with severe and critical symptoms should call the Health Department at (02) 8-651-7800 local 1149-1150.

Cebu-based Stringer Dale Israel contributed to this report.