By Jun N. Aguirre
Report filed: February 17, 2020
Boracay Island and Malay town remain COVID-19-free
A task force created by the local chief executive continues in doing their best to protect and shield the town of Malay including Boracay Island from the spreading of the Coronavirus disease.
On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an official name for the new coronavirus disease: COVID-19, which stands for Corona Virus Disease 19.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, said the organization was mindful to prevent “stigmatizing” names: “Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.”
On February 7, at 12noon, acting mayor Floribar Bautista ordered the implementation of the border control security to which checkpoints were established along several borders of Malay town. The checkpoints were the result of the Executive Order (EO) No. 4 series 2020.
Three border checkpoints, located within the two-kilometer radius of Caticlan port, were set up in the barangays of Union (Nabas) and Caticlan (Malay) near the Nabas-Malay boundary, in barangay Dumlog in mainland Malay and Sitio Bacolod in Barangay Caticlan, to monitor and identify people who may have coronavirus symptoms. Checkpoints were also established in the Roll on / Roll off (RoRo) area of Caticlan Jetty Port and Caticlan Airport.
The new measure to operate border checkpoints at all entry points to Malay, Aklan and Boracay Island were the first line of defense against individuals who experienced flu-like symptoms of the contagious disease.
Madel Joy Tayco, information manager of the Novel Corona Task Force of Malay town said that the ban restrictions were aimed at all people including tourists, businessmen and overseas Filipino workers. For residents coming in, they could be quarantined.
“To be restricted from entering the Malay town are those who have traveled to China, Macau and Hong Kong in the past 14 days,” Tayco said. The Philippine government lifted the travel restrictions imposed against Taiwan on February 14.
The LGU of Malay released an announcement on February 15, terminating the border checkpoints, issuing Executive Order No. 5. Although continuous monitoring of those with symptoms will still be strictly implemented at Caticlan Jetty Port.
Reports from the Malay Health Office indicate that there are already 35 persons coming from different nationalities that have been restricted from entering Malay town after the task force discovered they had traveled to China, Macau or Hong Kong.
The SB of Malay had previously adopted protocols on what to do if ever a person positive with the disease slipped through the border control of the local government, according to Dr. Athena Magdamit, president of the Association of Medical Health Officers of the Philippines Aklan chapter.
“The local government has identified the Ciriaco Tirol Hospital in Boracay as the first referral medical facility for patients suspected to have novel coronavirus. The patient will then be brought to the Dr. Rafael S. Tumbukon Memorial Hospital (DRSTMH) in Kalibo, Aklan for medical intervention,” Magdamit said.
In case a suspected person would resist being brought to the medical facility, the police will be called together with a hospital ambulance, to encourage them to go to the hospital for screening.
Data from the Provincial Health Office (PHO) indicates that from January 17 to February 10, 2020 at least 13 persons were subjected at the DRSTMH. Of these, nine were Chinese, three were Filipino flight attendants and one South Korean.
Dr. Cornelio Cuachon of the PHO said that the Corazon Cabagnot Tourism and Memorial Training Center in Barangay Old Buswang Kalibo has been officially named as the medical health facility for PUI and monitoring.
“We also had requested ten thermal gun scanners to be used at our domestic airports. This also includes the Caticlan Airport and the Caticlan Jetty Port for our RoRo passengers,” said Cuachon.
“As of now (February 10) the Aklan province including Boracay Island are still free and safe from Novel Coronavirus. We must all stay calm and vigilant,” Cuachon said.
On February 1, the Boracay Foundation Inc. held a Health & Security Public Awareness forum at CityMall Boracay to tackle growing concerns after the first Philippine case was confirmed on January 30.
Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the country’s tourism industry may lose as much as PhP42.9-billion in revenues because of the travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
For the month of February alone, losses could amount to more than PhP16-billion as a result of the ban on flights to and from China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau in a bid to minimize the spread of the COVID-19.
To cushion the impact, Puyat said she has invited President Rodrigo Duterte to visit premier tourism sites in the country to include Bohol and Boracay to boost the morale of both the tourists and the industry.
The three major airlines, Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air and Air Asia, gave initial loss estimates of PhP1-billion each in terms of ticket refunds for two months as more than 5,000 flights have already been cancelled, according to the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines.
Tourism Congress of the Philippines president Jose Clemente III, in a House of Representatives hearing conducted jointly by the committees on economic affairs and tourism said, that some companies (also on Boracay) have closed temporarily while others are also thinking of shutting down.
Peter Tay, liaison officer on Boracay for the Chinese Embassy Manila said that the embassy has donated 1,000 facemasks to medical personnel of Boracay Island initiated by Consul General Mr. Gang Luo.
Tay however bared that several Chinese hotels and restaurants on Boracay have started closing down because of the absence of the Chinese tourists. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines bared that it had stopped charters and regular flights to and from China beginning February 1 upon the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Felix Delos Santos, municipal tourism officer of Malay tells Boracay Sun News that tourists from South Korea, the US and Europe, including domestic tourists continue to flock to Boracay Island.
Editor’s note: For accurate news and updates visit; https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019