CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — A multi-agency task force was created Monday morning to address the threat of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) acute respiratory disease as three persons here have been placed under observation for showing symptoms of the infectious illness.

City councilor George Goking said the body will be tasked with monitoring and taking appropriate response to individuals who may have been infected with the 2019-nCoV as well as other issues related to it.

The Task Force Novel Coronavirus is composed of representatives from the city health office, Department of Health, JR Borja General Hospital, Northern Mindanao Medical Center, City Price Coordinating Council, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of the Interior and Local Government, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Department, city police, Bureau of Immigration, and city councilors.

Goking, chairman of the city’s trade and commerce committee, said the task force is headed by Dr. Lorraine Nery, the city health officer.

He said his role is to coordinate with the task force on the sale of face masks, stocks of which have been reported to have ran out here.

Among the first moves of the group is to conduct an ocular inspection of the Alwana Business Park, a commercial complex in Barangay Cugman in this city where a number of Chinese nationals are said to be staying.

In a report forwarded to the media by the city information office late Sunday (Feb. 2), a team composed of barangay, police, and city health officials visited the business complex to verify the information that an unnamed Chinese citizen died due to the novel coronavirus on Jan. 31, 2020.

“The report about a Chinese national who allegedly died due to NCOV is considered hearsay as no one surfaced to prove that it actually occurred,” the report said.

According to Felipe Alano Jr., BOI alien control officer in Northern Mindanao, there are at present 1,300 Chinese nationals in Cagayan de Oro based on the agency’s records.

Alano said most of the Chinese who are in the city are workers in various establishments here.

He said the BOI is prepared to implement a deportation procedure upon recommendation of the health department and the Bureau of the Quarantine.

“We respect their [foreigners] rights to stay here as long as it is legal. But once the DOH and Quarantine recommend it, we will implement the deportation process,” he said.

Alano added that foreign nationals who have contracted a communicable disease such as the 2019-nCoV could be deported.

In Cagayan de Oro, three persons have been put under observation after showing symptoms of the 2019-nCoV, the DOH-10 said last week.

Two of them are confined at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, said Dr. David Mendoza, DOH-10 epidemiologist, while the other is in another undisclosed medical facility.

In its website, the DOH announced that as of Feb. 1, 24 patients under investigation have tested negative for the novel coronavirus, while two tested positive. Those confirmed are Chinese nationals.

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