TWENTY-THREE of the 61 fellow airline passengers of a Chinese couple who tested positive for the 2019-novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease have been contacted by agents of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, with three of them confirmed to have manifested signs of the deadly virus, the PNP-CIDG director said yesterday.
According to Major General Joel Napoleon M. Coronel, officers from the CIDG National Capital Region Field Unit are still trying to contact the rest of the passengers of Cebu Pacific flight 5J 241 from Cebu to Dumaguete City last January 21.
The official said that his men have already contacted 23 of the 61, with three confirmed to have manifested signs and symptoms of the respiratory infection.
Coronel said that another 25 of the 132 fellow passengers of the Chinese couple aboard Philippine Airlines flight PR 2542 from Dumaguete City to Manila last January 25 have also been contacted by his officers, with three of the 25 now quarantined in separate hospitals.
“All passengers we have already contacted have been advised to avoid unnecessary contact with people and stay at home as much as possible. They were also asked to monitor themselves for fever, colds and cough; and observe proper hygiene, to wear masks and immediately contact the Department of Health (DOH) if they experience any signs and symptoms of respiratory infection,” said Coronel.
In a report to PNP chief General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, the official said that together with the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group, they have already established a Communication Center tasked to contact and locate all the fellow passengers of the Chinese couple in their domestic flights last month.
“This is in compliance with the instruction of Gen. Gamboa for us to coordinate with the DOH regarding the tracing of the location of the different passengers who came in with the said Chinese couple,” Coronel said.
As of press time, the official said that officers manning the center are still searching for more possible ways to trace the rest of the passengers.
DOH authorities also called on passengers of another Cebu Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Cebu to inform authorities of their present whereabouts and condition through the following hotlines: PNP- 0917-847-5757 (SMS Hotline); CIDG Operations Center 0998-598-8167 & 0927-717-0752;
DOH Call Center at Telephone No: (632) 8651-7800 local 5003-5004; (632) 165-364 and Mobile (DOH Main Office): +63918-8888364
Information can also be forwarded to email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gen. Gamboa said that the PNP under the Inter-Agency Task Force is ready to assist the DOH in contact tracing and other lateral implementation of public health measures.
“Our local police units are on high readiness mode, awaiting notice if needed by DOH to track down persons that may have recklessly circumvented quarantine protocol imposed by health authorities who are really doing a good job in responding to the nCoV health emergency,” PNP spokesman Brigadier General Bernard M. Banac said.
According to the official, Gen. Gamboa has also urged the public to avoid disinformation and spreading of fake news which tend to create panic and confusion.
“We assure the public that the PNP remains alert and vigilant to ensure public order and safety; and prevent criminal elements from taking advantage of the situation,” he said.
Gen. Gamboa on Tuesday said police doctors and nurses are being geared up for a mission to help repatriate Filipinos in N-COV-hit countries as soon as they are ordered by President Duterte.
He however maintained that preparations of all concerned government agencies including the PNP are largely dependent on DOH. “So far, we are fully prepared for any contingency. We have 105 CBRNE-trained policemen ready to help contain the spread of the virus and we are helping the DTI go after hoarders of face masks and other basic goods,” the PNP chief said.