Palawan provincial board member Ryan Maminta is proposing a temporary ban on the entry of Chinese visitors and other foreigners with a history of travel to Wuhan, China, and other countries with positive cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

“This is a primordial concern. Diplomacy, social, and economic interests can take a back seat. Self-preservation takes precedence,” Maminta said.

During the session Tuesday, board member Juan Antonio Alvarez’ also called for the use of infrared thermometers and temperature scanners at the Port of Puerto Princesa where cruise ships dock and domestic vessels also bring in travelers.

Alvarez wants the quarantine authorities to ensure that these instruments are also used to check the temperature of arriving passengers from domestic flights.

“Hindi po ba puwedeng ilipat from international arrival to domestic ‘yong thermal scanners? Two or three flights lang naman sa international, and we also have to make sure that the passengers arriving domestically are being monitored. Kagaya nitong Brazilian family from El Nido na nakapasok sila sa atin, hindi natin na-monitor na mataas pala ang temperature,” Alvarez said.

Maminta’s concern to temporarily ban the entry of Chinese visitors, as well as foreign travelers from China, has gained support from netizens who believe it is a necessary move to stave off even the slightest possibility of the coronavirus affecting Palaweños.

“Sana po ay ipaglaban niyo ang isinusulong niyo na i-temporarily ban hanggang hindi nareresolba ang problema. Hindi lang po sa airport kung hindi maging sa pier ay dapat na bantayang mabuti,” a netizen said.

Palawan remains nCoV-free

Meanwhile, asked about the status of the province where three foreigners were investigated due to suspicion that they might have coronavirus, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Jeremias Alili, assured the public that it “remains free of the nCov”.

Alili said the PDRRMO has always been prepared to prevent the entry of coronavirus since the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak sometime in 2016.

“Since 2016, during the first outbreak [ng SARS,] prepared na ang PDRRMO. [Our] personnel have coordinated with the municipal health offices (MHO) as part of the protocol to prevent the entry of this coronavirus,” Alili said.

Of the three suspected coronavirus cases in Palawan since last week, only the 10-year-old Brazilian patient under investigation (PUI) remains in isolation, said Monday by Dr. Audie Cipriano, the chief for the medical professional staff in the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP).

He said specimens have already been collected from the young patient on January 25 and these have been sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). Cipriano said her appetite is already back.

Dr. Mario Baquilod, Department of Health (DOH) regional director, said the result of the confirmatory test done on the 10-year-old Brazilian is still pending in the RITM.

“Mismong kinausap namin ‘yong RITM twice na at wala pa silang nire-release. Sa Thursday morning may forum kami so by the time, baka meron na,” Baquilod said.