Welcoming, sending off loved ones? Don't come to airport in groups amid virus spread- airport official


Posted at Feb 07 2020 05:07 PM

Welcoming, sending off loved ones? Don't come to airport in groups amid virus spread- airport official 1
Travelers pass through a health screening lane as they arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay, City, Feb. 04, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Want to welcome or send off your loved ones at the airport? Avoid coming in groups for now amid the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) on Friday urged the public to refrain from visiting airport terminals in groups amid growing fears over the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

"This call is being made not to alarm the public. This is our simple way of supporting inter-agency efforts to prevent and contain the spread of the virus,” MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal said in a statement.

"Let us say our goodbyes at home and not go to the airport in groups when meeting a passenger. It is very hard to fight tradition, but in times like this, everyone should look out for their own safety," the airport chief added.

It has been a custom in the Philippines, a country with at least 10 million migrant workers, for families and friends to welcome or say goodbye to their loved ones at the airport in big groups.

Issuance of visitors' passes in 4 terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) will be limited, the MIAA said.

Exception will be given to those assisting medical patients, the elderly, children and pregnant women.

The MIAA will also regulate passes to VIP rooms for official guests of the government and foreign embassies.

Monreal said they would also suspend tours and filming in the facilities.

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD), which health experts said spreads through close contact, has been confirmed to have infected 3 Chinese nationals in the Philippines.

They all came from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, which appeared from a market that sells exotic animals, such as bats and snakes, as delicacies.

As of Friday, the Philippines said it was monitoring 212 patients suspected of carrying the strain, which manifests as fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties.

Of the number, 184 are currently admitted in hospitals, 9 have refused admission, 17 were discharged but under strict monitoring and 2 had died of other causes, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

The Philippines has implemented a ban on travelers to and from China to contain the virus. Several airlines have also suspended flights to and from Chinese destinations.

More than 600 people have died and some 30,000 have contracted the virus, mostly in China, as of Friday.