Airlines informed about Duterte’s expanded travel ban: MCIA

All airlines with direct flights to Cebu from China, Macao and Hong Kong have been informed of the strict enforcement of the expanded travel ban of President Rodrigo Duterte amid report of the first death due to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Philippines, the spokesperson of Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) said on Monday.

Avigael Ratcliffe, spokesperson of GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation, said the airport is now coordinating with relevant agencies in implementing the government-ordered temporary ban on persons who have traveled to the three areas within the last 14 days as a precaution against the threat of the 2019-nCoV.

Together with the Bureaus of Immigration and Quarantine, we are working to ensure that all airlines operating direct international flights into Cebu from China, Hong Kong, and Macao are aware of the new directive and take appropriate action to minimize disruption to its inbound and outbound flights, Ratcliffe said.

The airport in Mactan Island has been servicing 36 flights from mainland China, as well as its eastern seaboard's Special Administrative Region and southern coast's autonomous region. At least flights are direct from the mainland, but there is no direct flight from Wuhan, the epicenter of the 2019-nCoV.

Ratcliffe said GMCAC has been coordinating with all airline operators, airport community stakeholders (such as concessionaires) and the Manila International Airport Authority, operator of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in order to align with the overall enforcement of the expanded travel issued by Duterte on Sunday (Feb. 2).

Although the entry ban exempts Filipino citizens and permanent residents in the country and covers all persons regardless of nationality, they are required to be quarantined for 14 days under the new presidential directive.

In response, MCIA has designated an isolated holding area for passengers who are allowed to disembark but will be placed under isolation in the light of the presidential directive.

This holding facility is closed off to non-essential airport employees and is connected to a separate bus bay to ensure proper handling and transport of the quarantined passengers, in line with the required stringent quarantine procedures, Ratcliffe said in a statement sent to the Philippine News Agency.

The airport management's spokesperson also said precautionary measures they established more than a week ago that are meant to control the potential spread and transmission of the novel coronavirus are still currently in place.

The measures, she said, include in-flight announcements prior to landing, advising passengers experiencing flu-like symptoms to self-declare and voluntarily submit to a medical screening by the Bureau of Quarantine upon disembarkation.

Other measures are intensified monitoring of arriving passengers in MCIA by taking additional thermal scans of passenger body temperatures on select flights, putting up of alcohol-based hand sanitizers and spraying of liquid disinfectant in aero-bridges prior to arrival of each flight, and mandatory wearing of protective masks and gloves for airport front-liners.

The MCIA also stationed a medical team at the Terminal 1 and 2, as well as distributes adequate reading materials and announcements to provide passengers with ample information on the new coronavirus strain.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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