General Santos City—The City Council here declared the city under a state of calamity on Tuesday in the wake of the nationwide alert on the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV).
The local legislative body passed the resolution for the calamity declaration during its regular session on Tuesday afternoon to strengthen the city’s prevention and control mechanisms against the disease.
Meanwhile, in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo on Tuesday afternoon ordered a province-wide suspension of classes in all public schools amid the threat posed by the 2019 n-CoV.
Degamo signed Executive Order No. 4-B Series of 2020, said Bimbo Miraflor, Capitol Public Information Officer and spokesperson for the province’s Incident Command System on nCoV.
This is a precautionary measure as well as to contain the spread of the virus, Miraflor said during a press briefing at the Provincial Health Office.
The suspension of classes will take effect Wednesday through Friday, and another announcement will be made afterward whether classes will resume on Monday, he said.
Private schools can take similar action at their own discretion, Miraflor added, even as many have already suspended classes on Tuesday.
GenSan City Councilor Franklin Gacal Jr., author of the resolution, said the move is mainly in response to a directive from the Department of the Interior and Local Government that mandates local government units to adopt stringent measures to prevent the entry as well contain possible cases of the 2019-nCoV.
Gacal specifically cited the provisions of Memorandum Circular 2020-18 issued by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año last Feb. 1. The council also considered the World Health Organization’s declaration of a global health emergency due to the spread of the 2019-nCoV, which was first reported in Wuhan, China.
Gacal said the recent confirmation by the Department of Health of two positive cases in the country is very alarming, considering 80 persons are already under investigation for the disease.
In GenSan, the City Health Office confirmed on Tuesday that it is monitoring a Chinese national who traveled last month to Wuhan City in China.
The male foreigner, a businessman who has long been staying in the city, is currently undergoing self-quarantine and has not so far showed any symptoms of the disease. He reportedly traveled to Wuhan for the Chinese New Year holidays and arrived in the city on January 23.
Gacal noted that GenSan is currently at risk of the disease as it has direct flights to Cebu, and some local residents have recently traveled to the area and possibly even Dumaguete City, which was previously visited by the Chinese patients that tested positive of the 2019-nCoV.
“It is the mandated duty of the local government under the general welfare clause and its police power to ensure the safety and protect the health of its (constituents),” the councilor said.
In line with the calamity declaration, Gacal said councilors approved the release of P10 million from the city’s Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund for the establishment of an isolation facility and the purchase of supplies, necessary materials and medicine to combat possible cases of 2019-nCoV.
They also authorized Mayor Ronnel Rivera to assist and extend financial help to possible 2019-nCoV patients that would be admitted to private hospitals, he added.
For Negros Oriental, Degamo stated in the order that the suspension of classes covers pre-school, elementary, high school, and tertiary levels.
Meanwhile, Dr. Liland Estacion, Assistant Provincial Health Officer and ICS commander, appealed to students to stay at home on these days, rather than go to the malls or other crowded places.
She said this is the time for the students to bond with their families or spend their free time studying.
Classes could resume on Feb. 10, two days from Feb. 8 which Estacion said is the 14th day of the incubation period since the last day of stay of the two Chinese nationals here.