COVID-19 WATCH: Half-day shutdown at City Hall

Supermarkets in Iloilo City limit the bottles of alcohol shoppers can buy amid the coronavirus disease 2019 spread. This move is meant to avoid hoarding and panic-buying. (F. A. Angelo)

By Emme Rose Santiagudo

Transactions at the Iloilo City Hall were temporarily suspended Thursday afternoon to give way to disinfection amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Mayor Jerry P. Treñas announced the temporary work stoppage at the City Hall on Thursday to allow personnel from the City Health Office (CHO) to sanitize the building.

Dr. Roland Jay Fortuna, the city’s focal person for COVID-19, said they decided to disinfect the building after learning that some employees had travel history and exposure to foreigners in countries with confirmed local transmission of the disease.

“City Hall has been catering to different clients and some of our staff had travel history from countries with confirmed local transmission. Considering the situation, we decided to send a disinfection team for the safety of our clients and employees,” Fortuna said.

Treñas said operations of the City Hall will be back to normal today, March 13.

Employees who had travel history to countries with confirmed local transmission, including those with exposure to foreigners from countries with local transmission, will be requested to undergo self-quarantine.

The mayor added that some employees who had contact with possible persons under investigation (PUI) will also go on self-quarantine.

He said that they have yet to ascertain the number of City Hall employees who will undergo quarantine.

“We are back to normal but there will be some employees who will be requested to undergo voluntary quarantine for further monitoring,” he said.

Treñas said the city government will also monitor employees who had travel history to Metro Manila where local COVID-19 transmission was confirmed.

“To a certain extent, we have to consider Metro Manila as one of the areas with local transmission then we will make necessary steps. We will be very strict,” he stressed.

He also appealed to the City Hall employees to forego their personal domestic and international travels amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“We are appealing to our employees to just stay here in the metro for now. It is also for their safety so as much as possible we should avoid traveling since local transmission has been confirmed in Manila,” he said.

The city government is now monitoring 73 persons who travelled to countries with COVID-19 cases.

On Wednesday, the mayor issued Executive Order No. 47 declaring strict compliance of self-quarantine in Iloilo City.

The EO ordered all persons who travelled abroad to undergo strict quarantine to contain the spread of COVID-19.



Meanwhile, a 30-year-old Filipina who travelled to Indonesia is the latest patient under investigation (PUI) in the region, the Department of Health-Center for Health Development in Western Visayas (DOH-CHD-6) reported on Thursday.

According to Dr. Jane Juanico, head of DOH-CHD 6 Infectious Disease Section, the patient is currently admitted to a referral hospital in Iloilo City after manifesting fever and cough.

“She is currently admitted in our referral facility yesterday. She exhibited fever and cough and had a travel history in Indonesia,” Juanico said in an interview on Thursday.

Juanico said the patient arrived in Iloilo City last March 5.

The health department said specimens of the patient have been sent for laboratory testing on Thursday.

As of Thursday, Juanico said the region remains free from Covid-19.

Data from DOH-6, showed 42 out of the 43 persons under investigation (PUIs) in the region tested negative for Covid-19 and discharged from hospitals.

Despite the entry of the coronavirus in the surrounding regions of Western Visayas, Juanico appealed to the public to remain vigilant and maintain the practice of precautionary measures.

“We have confirmed cases in Dumaguete City and Davao and although nagalibot sa aton region ang mga cases, maintain dapat gihapon ang preventive measures like proper cough etiquette and frequent handwashing,” she said.