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Airports, seaports on alert vs. coronavirus threat in PH

January 24, 2020 - Friday 11:01 PM by PNA

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CLARK, Pampanga – Transportation hubs in the country have implemented safety measures as Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade urged on Thursday vigilance in all ports of entry following the threat of a new coronavirus strain in the country.

“Please adopt all measures necessary and expedient to address the issue on coronavirus, considering world developments and the influx of passengers expected this Lunar New Year,” Tugade said in his directive to all heads of the agency’s aviation, airports, and maritime sectors.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General Jim Sydiongco said they are continuously coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Bureau of Quarantine to support its efforts to secure airports from the coronavirus and in closely monitoring arriving passengers, especially at the Kalibo International Airport, which has direct flights from Wuhan, China.

Sydiongco said Royal Air, one of the airlines that operate direct flights between Kalibo and Wuhan, has manifested its intention to suspend its Wuhan flights until the coronavirus issue has been contained and managed.

CAAP has reactivated its communicable disease preparedness procedures on all CAAP-operated airports, especially in international gateways such as Puerto Princesa, General Santos, Zamboanga, Davao, Kalibo, Laoag, and Iloilo.

Airport personnel were advised to exercise extreme vigilance in handling passenger arrivals to strictly monitor those who are possibly infected by the virus.

The posting of public advisories informing about coronavirus infections and the strict monitoring of suspected passengers are also being enforced.

For operations at the country’s main gateway, Manila International Airport Authority general manager Ed Monreal said the agency is in full coordination with the Bureau of Quarantine in support of their safety protocols.

For the maritime sector, directives have been given out to all ports operated by the Philippine Ports Authority to coordinate with the quarantine office and implement strict passenger screening at arrival areas, PPA general manager Jay Santiago said.

He added that stringent security measures are also in place, especially in areas frequently visited by tourists such as Bohol and Caticlan in Aklan.

The Philippine Coast Guard has also advised all medical units in its 13 Coast Guard Districts to be on high alert to prevent the possible spread of suspected coronavirus.

Strict passenger screening and safety measures are also in place on the country’s land terminals and railway networks to prevent the entry and spread of the virus.

“As we implement preventive measures and stringent monitoring of passengers in our transportation hubs nationwide, we implore the public to cooperate with the authority and also be vigilant in their travels at all times,” Tugade said. (DOTR PR)