Bohol Governor Arthur Yap placed the whole province under “community quarantine” effective next week to strengthen the province’s preventive measures against the spread of the  coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as the country wrestles with the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases.

Bohol is the first province to enforce a quarantine to contain the spread of the disease. 

Through an executive order, Yap ordered the banning the entrance of air and sea travel in the province starting midnight of March 16 until March 20. 

“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.

The decision was made after Yap conducted a whole day consultation with health authorities and multisector stakeholders on Thursday.

The governor clarified that the order is not a lockdown. People inside the province are still allowed to leave even within the quarantine period.  Schools and offices will continue to operate.

“A lockdown means nobody goes in, and nobody goes out. Under community quarantine, those who want to leave are allowed to leave,” Yap said.

Yap said the community quarantine is subject to extension after March 20 as per evaluation of the provincial government. 

During the five-day community quarantine, local authorities will have ample time to launch a massive information drive to educate residents on how to protect themselves from the disease.

The Old Tagbiliran Airport will be converted into a 60-bed isolation center for seriously ill patients. The Capitol Annex Building will also be converted into an isolation area as backup. 

Currently, Bohol is COVID-free with two individuals who are considered as persons under investigation for the infectious disease. They are currently being observed at the Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital (GCGMH) in Tagbilaran City while waiting for the results of their swab tests.  (RJ Espartinez)