The global threat from the Coronavirus that has spread out from Wuhan, China has already killed over 150 individuals since December, according to media reports. The crisis has understandably triggered panic all over the world, Palawan including. Rightly so, as medical science has yet to find a way to counter the virus and the focus at this time has mainly been about trying to contain the virus from spreading.
There were several cases in Palawan which are being monitored by health officials for their potential as coronavirus cases. Officials were relieved to announce early this week that the case involving a Brazilian family had been cleared and that at the moment, there appears to be no basis for Palawan to feel threatened.
It is important at this juncture that we should not relax our guard and take heed that the outbreak in China can still escalate into a global problem. This is because finding a way to sequence and contain the virus still remains a challenge for medical experts and the World Health Organization (WHO) which is scrambling to solve this puzzle.
Palawan, being a major point of destination from many countries, ought to fret and consider the risk of becoming a flashpoint, given that its tourism industry, in particular, attracts thousands of foreign travelers who have the potential to be carriers of the deadly virus.
China is trying to contain the virus from spreading, effectively locking down the entire city of Wuhan with millions of its citizens and residents under quarantine. There is however no assurance that this quarantine can hold and that the current problem can no longer escalate.
It is well and good that several proposals have been raised in the local legislatures in response to the coronavirus threat, from regulating the entry of foreign nationals to blocking out flights from mainland China. The import of these efforts, at the least, indicates a prevailing recognition of the threat despite a zero presence of the virus in the province.
Policymakers should consider the vulnerability of Palawan being a geographically isolated region with no demonstrated capacity to respond to a potential outbreak. It is such risk that necessitates erring on the side of caution and undertaking robust and practical measures to protect the province.