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Gov Yap places entire Bohol under community quarantine

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Governor Arthur Yap on Friday signed an executive order (EO) declaring community quarantine all over the province effective March 16 in the light of the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Starting midnight on Monday until March 20, only outbound travels are allowed while inbound will be prohibited, Yap said in his EO.

“That’s why this is not a lockdown,” Yap clarified, as he announced this during the Friday morning press conference.

Yap said the people inside the province can still go around but just have to observe social distancing as part of a call for collective action on Covid-19, in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s Thursday night declaration, raising the alert level to Code Red (Sub-level 2).

He explained that Bohol will need time to organize itself to define functions of government agencies and the civil society as well as to put in place systems and processes to face the challenge brought by the viral disease.

“Community quarantine means we are not allowing entry to Bohol during this period. It is not a lockdown, anyone is free to leave,” Yap further clarified.

He advised residents who are “immuno-compromised” to stay at home, hinting that it is hard to determine if the disease had already entered an area.

“Dili ba this disease starts like influenza? Pa-sipon-sipon ra, ubo (The disease starts like influenza? Running nose and cough.) It does not even have to be fever,” he said.

From Monday to Friday, the province will be assessed as to its readiness and as to whether the measures are effective in thwarting the spread of the disease.

“Are you sure that this disease will not come to Bohol? If this disease should come to Bohol, God forbids, are we ready? Do you have the confidence that our hospitals, our medical teams, our doctors, our nurses will be able to take care of us? How do we know it is not here already? And, we just cannot tell because there is no available test kit,” Yap said, stressing that “it is for these reasons that I signed today an executive order that will hopefully prepare us against this virus.”

The governor said he will be meeting the mayors to instruct them to prepare a barangay emergency management team to handle Covid-19.

The barangay emergency teams are to be established and emergency plans must be in place to handle Covid-19 also at the municipal levels to distinguish mild versus critical cases at village levels so as not to congest health facilities.

In response to an inquiry about the source of funds in case there is a need to purchase personal preventive equipment for the people, Yap said that since the President already declared Code Red (Sub-level 2) alert, which is the highest level, “we can now draw from the disaster funds”.

“Every home must have an isolation room. Keep the surroundings clean. We will convert the old Tagbilaran Airport into a 60-bed isolation center. Capitol Annex and hospitals will be additional 60-bed isolation center,” he said.

Yap also said all public places where people congregate must be cleaned regularly as he also advised the public to stop physical contact at this point.

“Keep a considerable distance from each other. Large gatherings are discouraged. An assessment will be made on whether the community quarantine will be continued,” he said. (PNA)