The provincial government has moved to temporarily ban the entry of any person with a history of travel in China and its special administrative regions (SARs) Hong Kong and Macau to prevent the transmission of the 2019-novel coronavirus.

Provincial Ordinance No. No. 2219-20, which was passed by the members of the Provincial Board on February 6, was signed by Governor Jose Alvarez on February 7.

Foremost in the ordinance that prescribes the guidelines for municipalities in Palawan to prevent and control the ingress of the globally dreaded disease is Section 6 which provisionally bans any person with a history of travel from China and its SARs from entering the province from any accessible point.

Filipino nationals and permanent residents who will be repatriated or who want to come to visit from the country that is the epicenter of the nCoV shall be quarantined or directed to do self-isolation for 14 days for their condition to be determined by local health authorities.

“Local chief executives are enjoined to enforce this prohibition effective immediately and until lifted by law,” the ordinance states.

Section 5 of the ordinance also mandates municipal tourism offices to “account and monitor all tourists presently staying or sojourning in their territorial jurisdictions”.

“They shall monitor on a day-to-day basis the whereabouts and health condition of tourists coming from China or its territories,” it also states.

Clearance of entry of all types of foreign vessels will be the responsibility of the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) regardless if they have already been cleared in other ports in the country.

The BOQ and the Provincial Health Office (PHO), on the other hand, shall be in charge of ensuring the accomplishment of health declaration checklists by passengers and crew abroad aircraft and vessels arriving in Palawan from foreign destinations.

Tourism establishments such as hotels, pension houses, lodging houses, resorts, and other accommodations are enjoined to monitor and record guests with histories of travel in China, its SARs and also other affected countries, and report them to the PHO or the DOH. This should be done, particularly when a guest shows flu-like symptoms.

In El Nido, mayor Edna Gacot-Lim has issued an executive order to also prevent the transmission of the nCoV in their town that already had two persons under investigation or PUIs in recent weeks.

Public relations officer Kurt Acosta said through the order, all establishments in El Nido have been mandated to provide hand sanitizer bottles that tourists can use.

“Ito ‘yong turismo ang backbone ng LGU. Pagdating sa response sa nCoV, nag-order na din po si mayor sa lahat ng mga establishments na mag-provide ng “ready sanitizers” na magagamit ng mga turista sa kani-kanilang lugar,” Acosta told Palawan News.

Business establishments are also required to make foreign tourists fill up health checklists to know their travel histories and medical conditions.

Acosta said El Nido is set to celebrate its town fiesta, but the final schedule of the event has not yet been finalized. (with reports from Bella Mutia)