CebuPac Flight 5J111 passengers urged to seek medical advice for nCov infection

Marje Pelayo   •   January 24, 2020   •   427

picture made available on 17 July 2014 of a Cebu Pacific Air aircraft and rain clouds on the runway at Clark International Airport, once the US Air force base, near Angeles City, the Philippines, 26 June 2014. Cebu Pacific Air offers domestic and international destinations with its main base at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and hubs throughout the Philippines including Clark International Airport. EPA/BARBARA WALTON/FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Budget airline Cebu Pacific is calling on all passengers of Flight 5J111 from Hong Kong to Manila which arrived on Wednesday (January 22), to seek medical attention should they exhibit flu-like symptoms amid the outbreak of novel coronavirus (nCov).

In its advisory, the airline said it has been alerted by reports from Hong Kong media that four passengers aboard the said flight may have been exposed to a person infected by nCov.

The management, however, assured that “all passengers and the crew aboard the flight were screened by the Bureau of Quarantine upon arrival in Manila, and none of them were held for further observation.”

To verify, the airline is now coordinating with Hong Kong authorities regarding the media reports.

Nevertheless, CebuPac advises its passengers aboard the said flight to “immediately seek medical attention should they exhibit flu-like symptoms including runny nose, cough, sore throat or fever.”

“We have also disinfected the aircraft following our standard practice for all inbound international flights,” the airline assured.

“We are closely monitoring the spread of the Wuhan virus, and have precautionary measures in place for our flights,” the statement read further.

Meanwhile, airline passengers are urged to take the following precautionary measures and maintain good hygiene and strong immune system so as not to contract the virus.

• Frequent handwashing with soap and water
• Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer
• Using a face mask
• Postponing air travel if feeling unwell. Health experts recommend travelers stay home a minimum of 24 hours after a fever subsides

Filipino maid tested positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong “in good condition”

Marje Pelayo   •   February 20, 2020

HONG KONG – The Philippine Consulate General’s office confirmed on Thursday (February 20) that the Filipino maid who contracted the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is now in stable condition.

Maganda ang kaniyang disposisyon at hindi siya kinakikitaan ng sintomas ng sakit gaya ng sipon, ubo, at lagnat (Her disposition is good and she is not showing signs of illness like cold, cough or fever),” the Consulate General’s office said in a statement.

Siya ay nasa mabuting kalagayan (She is in good condition),” the office confirmed.

The Pinay worker, however, is still not allowed to accept visitors as the results of the series of tests on her samples are still pending.

The Consulate preferred not to disclose the identity of the Filipino helper as requested by the patient herself but the office assured to provide her the necessary assistance on the course of her recovery.

Meanwhile, the Consulate General’s Office reiterates its appeal to the public not to spread fake news on social media so as not to cause panic.

Muli rin pong nanawagan ang Konsulado na iwasan ang pagpapakalat ng mga ‘fake news’ o anumang impormasyon na hindi beripikado (The Consulate Office reiterates our call (on Filipinos) to avoid spreading fake news or any unverified information),” the Consulate General’s office stressed.

Ito po ay upang maiwasan ang alarma at pagaalala lalo na ng ating mga mahal sa buhay (So as not to cause alarm and panic among our relatives),” it added.

Official information and updates regarding the situation of Filipinos in Hong Kong in relation to COVID-19 outbreak may be accessed on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PHLinHK/.  

Coronavirus scare reduces NAIA passenger traffic —MIAA

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The threat of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has reduced passenger traffic at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said Wednesday.

MIAA general manager Ed Monreal said that from January 27 to February 17, the country’s main gateway only handled a total of 1,352,692 international passengers compared to 1,624,698 passengers in the same period in 2019.

Domestic passenger traffic at NAIA also went down to 1,406,876 from January 27 to February 17 compared with 1,456,705 in the same period last year.

“It’s a lost opportunity but at the end of the day, there’s still time to recover and hopefully, we’ll be able to recover soon,” Monreal told reporters at a Palace briefing.

The MIAA chief added that the aviation sector is now slowly recovering from its losses after the government fully lifted the travel restrictions on Taiwan, and allowed Filipino overseas workers, students and permanent residents to leave for Hong Kong and Macau.

“So ngayon po, slowly recovering dahil sa mga pagbabago at panukala dahil sa mga pag-uusap ng task force na ipinatutupad ng task force and hopefully our local tourism will recover soon,” he said.

The Philippine government earlier implemented an entry ban for passengers who traveled to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau due to the novel coronavirus outbreak in China.

It later expanded the travel ban to include Taiwan but was eventually lifted on February 14.

On Tuesday, the government announced that Filipino workers, students and permanent residents bound for Hong Kong and Macau are exempted from the outbound travel ban “subject to certain procedural formalities.”

Meanwhile, Monreal expressed hope that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease will find a solution to the concerns raised by local airline companies on the safety protocols relating to the travel of its crew to Hong Kong and Macau.

Local carriers have earlier expressed concern on the reduced number of personnel if their crewmembers will constantly be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period after their flights to and from Hong Kong and Macau.  

“Kung ganoon po ang proseso na mayroon pa ho silang quarantine yung mga crew, medyo mahihirapan po sila na magmount ng flights dito kahit po may temporary lifting ng mga pasahero na papunta ng Hong Kong at pabalik po,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Health waivers mandatory for Filipinos leaving for Hong Kong, Macau

Marje Pelayo   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino household helpers may now return to their employers in Hong Kong after the Philippine government ordered a partial lifting of the travel ban amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay confirmed the order on Tuesday (February 18) as Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo noted that the partial lifting was in response to the mounting requests from returning workers to Hong Kong.

“There had been persistent requests from the OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) themselves,” he said.

“In fact, I received one call that he was fired from that position because he has not gone back, maybe that’s the reason why,” he added.

However, confusions emerged over the terms and conditions for their return, specifically the government’s requirement that they sign a written declaration acknowledging the risk of coronavirus infection if they head to the administrative territory.

But the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stressed that such declaration is mandatory.

“With the exemption, OFWs returning to Hong Kong and Macau shall be required to execute a declaration which states that they are aware of the risks involved,” the DFA said in an advisory.

“Newly-hired Filipino employees are likewise exempted from the ban as long as they also sign the form that can be obtained from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA),” it added.

Nonetheless, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin assured that despite the risk, the government will always be ready to provide them assistance even as one Filipino maid has been confirmed positive for the virus.

“Don’t worry, they’ll sign health waivers but we won’t waive our obligation to take care of them wherever they are,” Locsin said.

Aside from the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Filipinos with permanent residency status in Macau and China are also allowed to depart as well as Filipino students enrolled there.

Meanwhile, Filipino travelers from China with foreign spouses and their children will also be allowed entry to the Philippines as well as all holders of diplomatic visas subject to a 14-day quarantine period upon arrival.

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