Department of Tourism urges public, tourists to take precautions vs. Novel Coronavirus
Manila, Philippines — Hot on the heels of the announcement of the Department of Health (DOH) with regard to the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Philippines, the Department of Tourism (DOT) recently urged the public, including tourists from other countries, to take the necessary measures/precautions to veer away from the risk of contracting the said deadly virus.
DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a press statement that while the agency has the mandate to promote, encourage, as well as develop tourism as a major socio-economic activity in the country, the first priority of the DOT at the moment is to ensure the safety, health, and the well-being of all.
“We strongly urge the public to stay informed and abide by the suggested guidelines issued by our health department to minimize risk and help stem the spread of the coronavirus,” said the DOT Secretary. “For your safety, we ask for your full cooperation and understanding at this time.”
The DOT further said in a statement that the agency is confident that the heightened interventions of different government agencies, including the DOH, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Bureau of Immigration (BI), as well as Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), would help in impeding the spread of the 2019-nCoV.
On top of that, the DOT is also tapping different entities, such as the local health, travel trade partners, police and security establishments, and other stakeholders, to help in providing guidance and assistance in an aim to make sure that travelers and citizens are safe.
Romulo-Puyat added that the DOT’s stakeholders are going to be advised of all protocols shared by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases headed by the DOH, particularly in handling cases that involve guests and the workforce in the tourism enterprises.
Guidelines in Handling Guests in Tourism Enterprises in the Advent of nCOV Global Health Emergency
The Department of Tourism (DOT) enjoins tourism enterprises such as accommodation establishments to take immediate protective measures to avoid, correct or remove imminent danger in areas where tourists are evidently at risk of infection.
The DOT also encourages tourism enterprises especially in the accommodation sector to consider adopting the following steps in handling guests:
For Accommodation Establishments
Checked-in Guests With Symptoms: If guests report symptoms, please follow these steps:
1. Ask 3 questions indicated in DOH Decision Table below.
A. Have you recently (14 days) traveled to China or a country or place on the WHO list with local transmission or outbreak of 2019-nCoV?
B. Have you had recent contact with a person with a confirmed or suspected case of 2019-nCov?; and
C. Do you have such symptoms like fever greater than 38 degrees Celsius and flu-like symptoms such as cough, the difficulty of breathing or shortness of breath?
2. If the guest answers YES to ANY of the questions, s/he shall be considered “probable nCoV” and must be referred to a nearest local health worker or government hospital for nCoV medical protocol.
3. If the guest answers NO to ALL of the questions, s/he shall be considered “negative nCoV”, but must be referred to a doctor to address symptoms.
Stringent sanitation standards in all sectors of the workplace like housekeeping and food and beverage must also be implemented.
Other tourism enterprises and tourism-related enterprises are encouraged to adopt this set of guidelines and customize to the most appropriate process in their operations.
The Following Practices Have Been Recommended To Prevent the Further Spread of nCoV:
i. Practice frequent and proper handwashing
ii. Practice proper cough etiquette
iii. Always bring a handkerchief/tissue
iv. Cover the mouth and nose using a handkerchief/tissue (sleeves or crook of the elbow may also be used to cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing)
v. Move away from people when coughing
vi. Do not spit
vii. Throw away used tissues properly
viii. Always wash your hands after sneezing or coughing
ix. Use alcohol/hand sanitizer
x. Avoid unprotected contact with farm or wild animals
xi. Ensure that food is well-cooked
xii. Maintain a healthy lifestyle to build up immunity
The Department of Health (DOH) is closely monitoring individuals who manifest signs of respiratory infection and have a history of travel to China. It is coordinating with WHO and China Center for Disease Control for updates.
The DOH is also enhancing its coronavirus laboratory testing capacity, hospital preparedness, rapid response, and its risk communication and information dissemination. Personal Protective Equipment are made available at the Bureau of Quarantine, Centers for Health Development, and DOH Hospitals.
The Bureau of Quarantine, meanwhile, is working with airlines and airport authorities to strengthen border surveillance, while the Epidemiology Bureau is heightening its community surveillance.
The DOT will continue to coordinate with tourism stakeholders and LGUs nationwide and underscore the value of taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the nCoV.
To ensure safety and security of travelers and citizens, the DOT calls on the travel trade partners, local health, police and security establishments, and other stakeholders to help provide proper guidance and assistance, when needed.
The public can get information about the 2019-nCoV from the DOH’s and WHO’s official press releases, website, and official social media platforms. Please be wary of fake news and reports circulating online, and always verify the sources of your information.
Philippine Department of Health
World Health Organization – Philippines