Koreans leave Iloilo City amid COVID-19 concerns

Dr. Roland Jay Fortuna, the city government’s focal person for COVID-19, said the Koreans flew out via Iloilo International Airport and Kalibo International Airport. (Screen grab from video posted on Iloilo City Government FB page)

By Emme Rose Santiagudo

Nineteen Korean nationals who were supposed to attend a religious event in Iloilo City voluntarily left the metro amid threats of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Koreans were here to attend the RUN (Revival Unity for Next Generation) for Jesus event in La Paz district scheduled Thursday but the surge of COVID-19 in South Korea forced the city government to cancel the permit of the event on Tuesday.

Dr. Roland Jay Fortuna, the city government’s focal person for COVID-19, said the Koreans flew out via Iloilo International Airport and Kalibo International Airport.

“May flights na sila kaina early morning and 14 of them flew out via Kalibo and five via Iloilo. We are just awaiting confirmation from the Bureau of Immigration,” he said on Wednesday.

Fortuna said the Koreans were free of COVID-19 symptoms.

“They did not exhibit any signs and symptoms of COVID-19. They were all well,” he said.

Apart from the delegates, Fortuna said they monitored Korean tourists who arrived in the city on Wednesday.

After explaining the executive order of the city government, the Koreans flew out of Iloilo City Thursday morning, he added.

Kahapon lang sila nag-abot and we informed them regarding sang EO (Executive Order) ni mayor (Jerry Treñas and quarantine. Ginpaintindi namon ang sitwasyon sang Iloilo City and they understood and kaina sang aga nag-fly out naman sila,” he said.

The national government imposed a travel ban from the Philippines to South Korea following the spike of COVID-19 in the latter country.

Exempted from the travel ban are permanent residents of South Korea, Filipinos leaving for study, and OFWs returning for work.

Filipinos and their foreign spouses or children and holders of permanent resident and diplomatic visas from South Korea will be also allowed entry to the Philippines.

Mayor Jerry Treñas said the city government is closely monitoring with the health department for Koreans arriving in Iloilo declared as persons under monitoring.

He recently issued an order urging passengers from South Korea to voluntarily submit themselves to self-quarantine as a precautionary measure against COVID-19.

The mayor also ordered for the cancellation for major big events in the city from February to March.



Meanwhile, the RUN for Jesus event has been moved to April 30, 2020 following the cancellation of its initial schedule on Thursday.

According to Rev. Dr. Robert Senining of the Great Vision Church, they will now opt for a nationwide event where participants will come from Negros Occidental, Manila, and parts of Mindanao.

“This will be a local and nationwide event. We will still adhere to the advice of the Department of Health (DOH) and city government, for the safety of our residents,” he said on Thursday.

Senining said they have already instructed their Korean attendees to skip the event if cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to surge in South Korea.

“We will discourage that time. If the coronavirus will subside, we will consider that, we might invite Koreans also. But if the coronavirus is still high in Korea, we already instructed our Korean partners to not come,” he said.

The city government has cancelled the permit of the RUN for Jesus event in La Paz district following concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in South Korea.

Around 400 Koreans were scheduled to attend the event but were advised to not proceed in Iloilo City.

Senining said 17 Koreans have already arrived in Iloilo City earlier for the event but they already left the city after the announcement of the cancellation of the event.

Nagpuli na sila and we already discouraged those who were supposed to attend the event. The city government declared 19 Koreans but only 17 of them were delegates of our event,” he said.

In a separate statement, the group behind the religious event clarified that they are from local churches and religious organizations in Iloilo not from Korea.

Senining said they have also prepared all the necessary health and sanitary requirements upon the request of the CHO.

“All of these Korean nationals have medical clearances proving that they are not infected and have gone through thermal scanning before they were allowed by the Bureau of Immigration to enter the Philippines,” he said.

While they are dismayed of the cancellation, Senining assured that they will fully respect and follow the directive of the city government.

“We would also like to emphasize the fact that though dismayed with the government’s decision we are in full submission to the mayor’s directive. We want to make it clear that we are all for the protection and safety of our people especially the Ilonggos. As a matter of fact, the Run for Jesus was born out of our love for Iloilo and its people,” he said.

Mayor Jerry Treñas has issued an executive order for the cancellation of all major events in the city from February to March.

Aside from Run for Jesus, the annual Paraw Regatta Festivals has also been postponed and was moved to April.