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As search continues for co-passengers of two Chinese nationals who tested positive for 2019-nCoV

Duque says airlines ‘invoking confidentiality,’ on passenger records

/ 02:43 PM February 04, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has reported that only 17 percent of the co-passengers of the two Chinese nationals who positive for novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have been contacted, adding that airlines supposedly are refusing to share passenger records.

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During the Senate inquiry into the Philippine government’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Senator Nancy Binay asked Duque on updates regarding the contact tracing now being done by the government in relation to the two confirmed 2019-nCoV cases in the country.

The Health secretary admitted to senators that the government has yet to contact all of the persons who came in contact with the two Chinese nationals during their flight to the Philippines.

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“It’s been how many days already? At hindi niyo pa nako-contact 100 percent yung nakasalamuha nitong dalawang pasyente na ‘to. Yung hotels and restaurants understandable mahirap yan, but yung eroplano?” Binay told Duque.

(It has been several days already and you have not contacted 100 percent of the people who may have had contact with these two patients. It is understandable that this will be hard for hotels and restaurants. But for a plane?)

“Unang-una may ano yan ‘di ba listahan…saka may fight manifest, di ba dapat ngayon pa lang, for me secretary, dapat 100 percent…Ano ho yung nagiging difficulties in getting in touch specially sa kasama sa eroplano,” she added.

(In the first place, the plane has a list, a flight manifest. For me Secretary, it should be 100 percent. What is keeping you from getting in touch with all of the co-passengers?)

Duque said that while airlines readily gave the DOH their flight manifests, no passenger contact details, however, were given.

“Ang contacted 17 percent or a total of 331. Airlines are not sharing contact details of the passengers…they are invoking confidentiality so ito po ang kailangan nating harapin,” he added.

(We have managed to contact 17 percent or a total of 331 (persons). Airlines are not sharing contact details. They are invoking confidentiality).

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The Health Secretary added that airlines have also been issuing announcements informing passengers of the flights concerned.

“Meron ho silang announcement na ginawa na yung mga flight numbers, the two airlines have already continuously shared this information so that those who actually were inside the planes would know that they have to follow the following (precautionary) steps,” Duque said.

Both Cebu Pacific and Philippines Airlines (PAL) have earlier said that they will cooperate with the Department of Health and Bureau of Quarantine officials in tracking down all their passengers.

During the hearing, PAL Vice President for Security Ronnie Ordoyo said PAL and Cebu Pacific have “already communicated” to the Bureau of Epidemiology their “concerns regarding the proactiveness of the contact tracing that is being done.”

Ordoyo said they have already submitted a list to the bureau.

“We have given them the list as required because our protocol, it would be the BOQ (Bureau of Quarantine) who should be following up but we waited until such time our president and (chief executive officer) gave us the go signal to initiate, if possible, the airline could support and we did that,” he said.

“We already submitted the names of the passengers who have seats adjacent or in close proximity to the infected passenger,” he added.

To allay concerns regarding the contact tracing, Ordoyo told the Senate they have so far contacted 74 out of the 132 passengers.

“Meaning it’s about 21 of the 31 passengers who are closely seated to the two were already advised,” he added.

“The airline is in full support and cooperating and proactively doing this because we know the effects and the risks involved in here,” he added.

The DOH over the weekend, announced that the Philippines has recorded its second case of the 2019-nCoV.

The second case, the first death recorded outside of China, was of a 44-year-old companion of the Chinese woman, who was the first to test positive for the virus in the Philippines.

Both are Chinese nationals from Wuhan City, the epicenter of the outbreak.

edited by MUF
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