78 Filipinos from Taiwan quarantined in Cebu

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Cebu City (CNN Philippines, February 13) — Dozens of Filipinos who arrived from Taiwan were placed in quarantine on Thursday after 10 hours at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA).

The 78 passengers were placed in 14-day isolation at an undisclosed government facility in Cebu City after arriving in the country from Taiwan — one of the four areas where the Philippine government imposed a travel ban.

A passenger told reporters in a phone interview that being stuck in the airport was a traumatic experience since police arrived at the MCIA bearing long firearms.

The passenger, an OFW from Taiwan who requested anonymity, said he arrived via Eva Air at around 10am Wednesday. He said they were forced to stay at the airport's holding area until 8 p.m. It took also about an hour for them to arrive at the quarantine facility.

MCIA General Manager Steve Dicdican earlier said the disgruntled passengers refused to be quarantined and are forcing their way out of the airport on Wednesday afternoon. Dicdican and other airport officials immediately sought an augmentation force from the Police Regional Office who responded by sending policemen.

The same OFW passenger said the authorities must understand how they feel about the entire incident. For one, they were not told upon boarding that they will be quarantined when they arrive in Cebu, he said.

If they been informed in advance, they would have readily adjusted their schedule and expect quarantine procedures, he pointed out.

He also said they understood the protocols, but they should have been given better accommodations at the holding area. The passenger said they are staying at a quarantine facility that looks like an old classroom, adding several people are sharing rooms. He expressed hope that the government will look into the condition of the quarantine facilities since there is no water supply as of Thursday morning.

Airport officials and the Provincial Task Force on Coronavirus has not issued further statements as of this morning.

The Philippines announced a travel ban against foreign nationals and non-holders of permanent visas coming from Taiwan. The government's travel ban lumped Taiwan with mainland China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau.