Governor Arthur Yap on Friday announced that he will be placing the entire province of Bohol under “community quarantine” next week for authorities to “seriously prepare” measures against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as the country grapples with the growing threat of the pandemic.
Yap will issue an executive order barring any person from entering the province by air and sea from midnight on March 16 until March 20, making Bohol the first province to impose such measure as part of efforts to contain the spread of the dreaded disease which has left five people dead in the country and hundreds more worldwide.
The Capitol’s decision to close the province for entry was made after Yap held a daylong consultation with health authorities and multisector stakeholders on Thursday.
“I am signing today an executive order that will hopefully prepare us to beat this virus. We will be under community quarantine for five days to help us prepare,” he said during a press briefing at the Capitol.
According to Yap, the measure will prevent the entry of the COVID-19 and give local authorities time to implement measures to stave off the disease.
The governor clarified that he is not ordering a lockdown. Those inside the province are allowed to leave even within the quarantine period, while residents may freely leave their homes and go to work and school.
“A lockdown means nobody goes in, and nobody goes out,” he said. “Under community quarantine, those who want to leave are allowed to leave. Mo adto ka sa public market, pwedi. Mo simba ka, pwedi.”
The community quarantine may be extended after March 20 depending on the evaluation of the provincial government.
Yap said that the five-day community quarantine will give local authorities time to launch a “massive” information drive to inform the public on how to protect themselves from the disease including refraining from engaging in any form of physical contact.
The provincial government will be converting the Old Tagbilaran City Airport into a 60-bed isolation center for those “seriously ill.”
More beds for isolation will also be made available at the Capitol Annex Building.
There are currently no confirmed COVID cases in Bohol, although there are two individuals who are considered as persons under investigation for the disease.
Both are confined at the Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital (GCGMH) in Tagbilaran City and are quarantined at an isolation ward pending the results of their swab tests.
The country’s third confirmed COVID case also traveled to Bohol in late January while infected with the disease and was quarantined at the GCGMH before leaving for China.