MANILA — Following reports that the Wuhan virus or the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) could be transmitted even while the carrier is still asymptomatic, Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), on Wednesday called for intensified screening of all travelers entering through the country’s air and sea ports.
Gordon said that while the country should remain open to tourists, the public needs to be protected hence he proposed having a separate lane for travelers coming from China and other countries where there are reported positive or presumed positive cases of the virus which has already claimed 106 lives in China and infected 4,578 people and 18 in other countries as of Tuesday.
“It is good that the country is still generally safe. However, for our country to remain so, we should be on our guard. All incoming travelers should be made to undergo tighter screening procedures. If, as reports said, the nCoV can be transmitted during its 14-day incubation period, we should conduct more than just thermal scanning on travelers. Travel history of passengers, especially for the past three weeks, should be disclosed,” Gordon said.
The PRC chairman is proposing a temporary and partial lock down, out-rightly denying entry to travelers with history of travel especially to Hubei Province where Wuhan is the capital, and other hard-hit areas in the said country within at least two to three weeks prior to their arrival in the Philippines.
“While the country should not be closed to foreign tourists, the Filipino people should be protected from the threat that incoming passengers with a travel history to Hubei, especially Wuhan, the ground zero, would bring,” he said.
The Philippine Immigration Bureau also ordered Tuesday the suspension of “visa upon arrival” or VUA issuance to Chinese nationals amid the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus worldwide.
Mwanwhile, Gordon called on the public not to panic, amidst the global 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-NcoV) scare.
“While we may be scared of the Wuhan virus or the novel Coronavirus because it is an instinctive reaction to fear the unknown, there is no need to panic,” Gordon said in a statement. (STACY ANG/IAMIGO/CPH)