School amends quarantine memo after critics cry ‘racism’ | Inquirer News

School amends quarantine memo after critics cry ‘racism’

/ 04:35 AM February 02, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A school directive meant to prevent the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV) among students wound up spreading animosity among several stakeholders instead.

In a memorandum on Friday, Adamson University president Fr. Marcelo Manimtim ordered all Chinese students, in both graduate and undergraduate levels, to go on self-quarantine until Feb. 14.


The order, a response to the Department of Health’s (DOH) confirmation of the first nCoV case in the country on Thursday, immediately drew protests from the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), which denounced the memo as a form of “blatant racism and discrimination” against the university’s Chinese students.

“In the face of the worldwide scourge brought about by the novel coronavirus, it is time for solidarity — to stand together — not discriminate, not stigmatize,” said TUCP president and Rep. Raymond Mendoza, who demanded the immediate retraction of Adamson’s memo.


Mendoza, who also chairs the House committee on overseas workers affairs, said the labor group “notes with sorrow” the racist, anti-Chinese statements, pictures, jokes and memes that are circulating on social media in the midst of the global health emergency.

Memo later revised

TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay added that there was a need “to recognize that we have thousands of Filipino workers based in China and equally, thousands of Chinese workers in the Philippines. It is time to establish and implement protocols that will preserve—for both Filipino and Chinese workers—their life and limb.”

The backlash prompted an addendum to the Adamson memo.

On Saturday, it was amended to include “all students, staff and stakeholders who have traveled to and from countries with confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV, including China and/or Hong Kong, within the last month, or who may have in close contact or had direct exposure to a potential source of infection during their travel abroad.”

Fatima, Ateneo directives

Several Metro Manila schools also issued similar directives. The Our Lady of Fatima University asked its foreign students, faculty members and staff, as well as Filipino students with a history of travel to mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau and who arrived in Manila from Jan. 14 onward, to observe the 14-day mandatory self-quarantine.

A memo by Ateneo de Manila University (Admu) president Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin also called for the same precaution among students and faculty members under exchange programs, those who have just arrived from China, or those who may have been exposed to confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV. They were asked to monitor themselves for symptoms.

The university also ordered a complete travel ban to China for all its students and employees.


“Any travel to China approved previously are revoked. We urge all members of the Admu Community to refrain from traveling to China until the travel ban is lifted by the DOH,” Villarin said.

DepEd measures

Education officials said they were preparing an expanded advisory asking schools in affected regions to cooperate with DOH teams now tracing individuals who had been in contact with or were exposed to the confirmed nCoV case from Wuhan, China.

“The Department of Education (DepEd) regards the nCoV as a matter of serious and urgent concern. We stand ready to contribute to the overall Philippine government efforts for the management of this public health situation, and look to the DOH for guidance on how we can best help,” said Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones “has been in direct communication with (Health) Secretary (Francisco Duque III) as well as the health officers in affected regions and communities visited by the confirmed patient since [Jan. 30],” Malaluan said.

Local DepEd units were also instructed to coordinate with their health department counterparts and implement DOH guidelines, particularly on any decision regarding a school lockdown.

Malaluan said DepEd officials would also recommend the creation of a task force that would standardize guidelines and protocols on the prevention, monitoring and overall response of schools to the virus.

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TAGS: Adamson University, discrimination vs. Chinese, Marcelo Manimtim, NcoV, novel coronavirus
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