Novel coronavirus scare prompts indefinite class suspension in some Kalibo schools

The schools are near the government training center currently housing Chinese tourists under observation for exposure to the novel coronavirus

Boy Ryan B. Zabal

Published: 2:40 PM January 30, 2020

Updated: 3:45 PM January 31, 2020

AKLAN, Philippines – Some public and private schools in Kalibo town have suspended classes as a preemptive measure after 11 Chinese tourists were put under medical observation for the novel coronavirues (2019-nCoV)in a government-run training center near the educational institutions. 

Although there were no confirmed cases of 2019-nCov in Aklan or the rest of the Philippines, for that matter – the indefinite suspension of classes was in effect in schools near the Governor Corazon L. Cabagnot Tourism and Training Center or Aklan Training Center in Barangay Old Buswang, about two kilometers from downtown Kalibo. 

The suspension of classes affected some 4,000 students of Starglow Center for Academics and Arts, Buswang Old Bakhaw Sur Elementary School, and Saint Gabriel College, which are within the 500-meter radius of the government training center. 

Classes at the Regional Science High School for Region VI, a stone’s throw away from training center, were also canceled as a precautionary measure. (READ: ’Novel coronavirus’ or 2019 nCoV: What we know so far)

Some parents, with the safety of their children in mind, did not wait for an official announcement for class suspensions. The "virus scare" also prompted people to buy and wear face or surgical masks to protect them against the virus.

On Thursday, January 29, Kalibo Mayor Emerson Lachica issued Executive Order No. 004 calling for the class suspensions to safeguard the health and safety of students, employees, and teachers.

He issued the EO after the Provincial Health Office announced it was monitoring 11 Chinese visitors – 7 adults and 4 children – who were traced by health authorities in Boracay Island last week. They were admitted to the Aklan provincial hospital in Kalibo, on January 24 and transferred to the training center the next day for medical observation.

Provincial Health Officer I Dr Cornelio Cuachon Jr said the tourists did not show flu-like symptoms after 4 of them had close contact with a patient positive for the 2019-nCoV in Hong Kong. 

The Chinese tourists, all from Hubei province, will stay in Aklan until February 3 or after going through the maximum 14-day incubation period.

The 2019-nCoV has infected over 6,000 people and  led to 132 deaths in parts of the world, according to World Health Organization situation report on January 29. Of the number, China accounted for 5,997 cases and over 100 deaths.

In the Philippines, 24 foreign tourists were being monitored after they showed flu-like symptoms and found to have a history of travel to Wuhan in Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak. One of those under observation died of pneumonia in a Manila hospital on Wednesday,  January 29, but he was not yet confirmed as a 2019-nCoV case. – Rappler.com