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Philippine airport steps up ways to stop coronavirus spread

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CEBU CITY (Philippine Daily Inquirer) –– The Mactan-Cebu International Airport or MCIA in the central Philippines has beefed up its measures against the coronavirus by requiring all frontline personnel to wear protective gear such as surgical masks.

GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation or GMCAC executive advisor Andrew Harrison said this is just one of the additional measures put in place at the MCIA against the spread of the coronavirus from inbound passengers.

The measures, he said, are to protect not just the passengers but also the airport staff, who are the first ones to come into contact with arriving international passengers.

“As it is currently known that the spread is through droplets, surgical masks will suffice. So GMCAC will ensure that the staff, such as housekeeping and other frontline staff are wearing masks,” said Harrison.

“We are introducing additional measures to help safeguard the safety of both passengers and staff at the airport,” Harrison said.

In a press conference at the airport on Wednesday evening, Harrison said all airlines have been instructed to have standard in-flight announcements, advising passengers experiencing flu-like symptoms to self-declare, and submit to medical screening upon disembarkation.

Hand sanitizers have also been placed at the bridge area and other strategic locations around the airport. On the other hand, liquid disinfectants will be regularly sprayed in the aerobridges before each flight arrival.

Medical teams will also be stationed at Terminals 1 and 2 of the MCIA.

Quarantine Officer Paul Longinos said they have added areas for thermal scanning aside from the ones located near the immigration processing section. Handheld scanners are deployed at the aerobridges near the door of the aircraft.

If there is a passenger suspected to carry the coronavirus, the Bureau of Quarantine would also instruct the airline to conduct a full “disinfection” of the entire aircraft, said Harrison.

Harrison said that while they ought to have N95 masks, these are no longer available here because of the Taal volcano eruption. Health officials have advised them that surgical masks would suffice against the coronavirus.

Harrison also said that they are particularly watching the 36 flights per week that come from Chinese cities, including those from Guangzhou, Xiamen, Jinjiang, Chengdu, Shanghai, Shenzen, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, and Macau.

Chinese boy

Meanwhile, Longinos said that the quarantine staff that handled the Chinese boy, who tested positive for coronavirus, were “perfectly fine” and did not show symptoms of the virus.

On January 12, a 5-year-old Chinese boy and his mother arrived at the MCIA. Later on, the boy was diagnosed with coronavirus, the strain of which is still being determined in a test conducted in Australia.

Health officials said the boy was stable and recovering in an isolation facility at a hospital in Cebu City.

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