PROACTIVE MEASURES. An employee of the Daanbantayan Municipal Health Office monitors the temperature of tourists visiting the town's famous Malapascua Island using a portable thermal scanner on Monday (Jan. 27, 2020). Cebu Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Christina Giango said in a radio interview that heightened alert against the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) strain is now going down to the municipal level. (Photo courtesy of Municipality of Daanbantayan)

CEBU CITY – The heightened surveillance against the 2019 new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Province of Cebu will go down to the town level to protect the Cebuanos from the flu-like virus strain, the provincial health officer here on Tuesday said.

Dr. Christina Giango, head of the Cebu Provincial Health Office, said in a radio interview that Governor Gwendolyn Garcia will formalize the creation of a task force that will monitor the new coronavirus strain.

She said that Garcia told them to submit a thorough study on the precautionary measures that will be implemented.

Giango said the governor has initially required municipal health officers to impose heightened alerts on their respective areas of responsibility, especially in towns that have operational resorts and attractions frequently visited by tourists.

“Our municipal health officers in every town are asked to be vigilant and conduct surveillance. It’s their lookout to investigate and to inform PHO if they find suspicious flu-like symptoms of visitors,” Giango said in Cebuano.

The PHO follows the usual protocol established by the Department of Health (DOH) in handling cases, she said, adding that they are required to report to the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU) of the DOH in Central Visayas.

Giango said RESU will assess the case and may require the PHO to take a swab sample which will be sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and to Australia for a laboratory test.

In Daanbantayan town where Chinese tourists are frequently visiting the Malapascua Island, Mayor Sun Shimura ordered the implementation of proactive measures to prevent the entry of coronavirus disease.

“All guests and visitors traveling to Malapascua Island are required to undergo certain procedures at Roro Port. Guests and visitors need to fill the Passenger Manifesto indicating their name, nationality, country of origin, resort to check in, among other things,” the advisory posted on the Municipality of Daanbantayan social media page said.

Tourists visiting the island are also asked to undergo mandatory thermal scanning to measure their temperature.

“Those with symptoms such as high fever may undergo additional screening, and to stay in isolation and restrict contact with other people,” it said.

Garcia earlier announced that she will be crafting an executive order (EO) imposing preventive measures to prevent the spread of the virus in the province.

The EO, she said, will be similar to the issuance she signed last year to prevent the entry of pork and pork-related products from Luzon at the height of the African Swine Fever (ASF) scare in the country.

The task force will meet on Thursday (Jan. 30) along with major hospitals in Cebu as well as government and sectoral representatives, including officials from the Department of Health (DOH-7), Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), the Bureau of Quarantine (BuQ-7), and the Cebu Port Authority (CPA).

Meanwhile, Dr. Jaime Bernadas, regional director of DOH-7, said there were eight patients who are now considered persons under investigations (PUI) after complaining of flu-like symptoms and had history of traveling to Wuhan, the origin of the 2019-nCoV that has killed 106 people and infected 4,515 people across mainland China.

Giango reiterated the DOH-7’s advice to the public to practice proper hygiene including hand-washing using soap and water, have a proper diet and take lots of fluids and Vitamin C, avoid crowded places, and stay in isolation if they manifest the symptoms. (PNA)