Hotels, DOH cry foul over viral list on FB

THE Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu Inc. (HRRACI) and the Department of Health (DOH) 7 cried foul over a list posted on social media that named hotels where South Korean travelers being monitored for the virus are reportedly staying.

The list was unverified and not official, HRRACI and DOH officials said in an emergency press conference Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, after they learned about the post. The list would only cause confusion or panic and loss of revenue for the named establishments, they said.

The list named 10 hotels located in Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu City where the South Korean nationals were allegedly billeted and quarantined, and the post also warned the public not to go to these hotels. The post was taken down hours after it was posted.

The South Korean nationals did not manifest flu-like symptoms of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) but they were ordered by quarantine officials to stay in their hotels for monitoring. They came to Cebu from Daegu, North Gyeongsang province, South Korea, where there has been a rise of infection cases. The Philippines has ordered a ban on travel from North Gyeongsang.

DOH 7 medical program coordinator for infectious diseases Van Phillip Baton said Cebu, and Central Visayas, are safe. “We are Covid-19 free,” he said, adding that the viral post should not cause cancellation of bookings and events in hotels.

Baton said the information was unvalidated and unverified because it did not come from legitimate and authorized sources such as the DOH 7, HRRACI and other verified sources.

He said the information was not meant for public dissemination.

The HRRACI and DOH 7 are coordinating in tracing the Daegu travelers who arrived in Cebu Tuesday, Feb. 25. The travel ban was imposed by government on Wednesday, Feb. 26.

Baton said the region maintains the strictest security and quarantine protocols and hotels are complying.

He said the hotels in the list are not off-limits and are in fact taking measures against the Covid-19 such as thermal scanning of persons and sanitizing areas.

HRRACI president Carlo Suarez said the false information caused some cancellations among the hotels listed and it further “hurt the industry.” “It is quite unfortunate that certain individuals have used the current Covid-19 to spread false information,” he said. “There is no truth to the rumor that these Koreans are already afflicted and may infect others,” he added.

Suarez said they have tapped the anti-cybercime unit of the Philippine National Police to trace the person behind the post.

The HRRACI legal team will study criminal liability.

The HRRACI earlier said the epidemic has been causing a drop in occupancy rates in hotels and a decrease in revenue. (JOB)


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