Friday, February 14, 2020

Zambo has no nCoV cases, but 8 people placed under monitoring

EIGHT PEOPLE are now being monitored here for any symptoms of the deadly Wuhan coronavirus due to their travel history to China where the virus emanated, although health authorities said Zamboanga City has no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus or nCoV.

The City Health Office (CHO) said the 8 persons under monitoring (PUM) are on 14-day quarantine period. The nCoV is a new strain of coronavirus not previously identified in humans. It affects the respiratory tract. 

Dr. Dulce Miravite said health authorities continue to monitor the situation as there are several others who have travel history to or from Hubei Province. They are also under self-quarantine.

“Zamboanga City remains to have no confirmed cases as well as no persons under investigation for nCoV. The CHO continues to closely collaborate with the Department of Health and other health agencies including public and private hospitals, conduct information drives, place health personnel in points of entries and other advocacies so that people will be informed with the accurate data and prevent panic and confusion,” she said.

Miravite emphasized that persons who have travel history, had exposure to nCoV cases and is a health care worker, but with no signs and symptoms of the disease are considered PUM and are required to undergo home quarantine. 

On the other hand, she said persons with history of travel, had close contact with nCoV cases, is a health care worker and show signs and symptoms are considered persons under investigation (PUI) and are advised to be admitted in the hospital, she said.

Miravite also urged the public to monitor, share and spread only validated information from official sources to prevent panic. She said the disease - which already killed over 1,000 people and infected tens of thousands more in China - is believed to have transferred from animal species to humans in a seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan, the Hubei’s capital city.

She said the virus develops 2-14 days after infection which include symptoms of colds, cough, fever, shortness of breath and severe respiratory problems. Preventive measures include regular hand washing with soap and water, covering cough and sneeze, drinking adequate water, proper hygiene and sanitation, healthy lifestyle and avoiding crowded places, she added. 

Tight monitoring of sea, airports

The Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) here also stepped up its monitoring at sea and airports to prevent the entry of the nCoV, especially passengers of ferries plying Sandakan to Zamboanga.

Dr. Omar Aranan, chief of the BOQ-Zamboanga Station, said medical personnel conduct rapid health assessment of all passengers and deportees before disembarking here. “We have nothing to worry because we have people on the vessel,” Aranan said, adding, the BOQ is also coordinating with other agencies for the protection of all other ports of entry within its area of responsibility.”

Aranan said the BOQ has linked up with shipping agents, different maritime agencies, port authority and members of the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Services for the consolidation of efforts in trying to prevent the entry and spread of the dreaded nCoV.

He said agencies have agreed to stop the issuance of “shore pass” to foreign crew members or vessels arriving here, although minimal contacts between the port operators and crew members are allowed.

Aranan said they have coordinated with the different port safety security officers on different points of entry, including private wharves, to look at the Safety Security Plan especially for those catering foreign vessels plying the Zamboanga route.

Ship agent representatives have also been required to submit to the BOQ an advance copy of the Maritime declaration of health, voyage memorandum and crew list in order for the latter to have the pertinent documents on hand even before the vessel arrives in Zamboanga.

In this manner, Aranan said, the BOQ has been able to scrutiny even before the vessel arrives. Vital decisions or precautionary measures can be done according to the documents on hand, he added.

Crew members and vessel should also be placed in a 14-day quarantine period from the last origin. Nonetheless, Aranan said these safety measures are undertaken without hampering trade and commerce. “We do our job at the same time we have to strictly monitor our safety in terms of health,” he said.

Events Cancelled

Because of the Wuhan coronavirus scare, the local government cancelled several events included in the celebration of the 83rd Dia de la Ciudad de Zamboanga on February 26.

Christian Olasiman, head of the Special Events Team of the local government, the Inter-school Drum and Lyre Competition and the Grand Civic-Military Parade and the Field Demonstration at the sports complex have been cancelled.

The main commemorative program and the Local Achievers Awards, which were originally scheduled at the sports complex, will be held after the flag raising ceremony at City Hall grounds, according to Olasiman.

He said all other activities for the celebration will continue, but will follow guidelines set by the City Health Office to ensure health security. Under the guidelines, those who have had travel history to China and other countries with confirmed nCoV cases are advised to undergo self-quarantine at home for 14 days; and those feeling sick or not feeling well are advised not to attend any of the activities and just stay home or go to the hospital. 

Among the activities that will continue are 7th Copa de Ciudad de Zamboanga Open Invitational Bowling Tournament on Feb. 21-23; Open Chess Tournament on Feb. 21; Zamboanga Film Festival Awards Night on Feb. 22, and the Open Cheerdance; Hiphop Dance competition on Feb. 24 at the Mayor Vitaliano Agan Gymnasium and the Zamboanga Music Runvolution 4.0 on Feb. 25 in Pasonanca, among others.

Olasiman said the city government has partnered with pharmaceuticals for the “wet sampling” on the attendees and provide them with hygiene kits. (Zamboanga Post)

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