Foreign, local visitors urged to leave as travel ban looms on Siargao Island

GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Island (MindaNews / 16 March) — Owing to the COVID-19 threat, the Surigao del Norte provincial government wanted foreign and local tourists to immediately leave Siargao Island, causing anxiety to some of them.

Surigao Norte Gov. Francisco Matugas issued the advisory on Sunday as part of measures to prevent the entry of the dreaded novel coronavirus disease into the shores of Siargao Island.

“All temporary visitors (whether foreigner or local) in Siargao are hereby advised to leave immediately,” he said.

According to Matugas, the term “visitor” refers to tourists or any person visiting Siargao for purposes of pleasure or business.

Some foreign guests on the island were worried by the advisory from the provincial government for them to leave Siargao Island.

“We are willing to leave but it’s such so weird that we have nowhere to go as almost all other places are banning tourists, closing ports,” said Sara Meadows from the United States.

Ras Linga, a Filipino-American who frequents the island, said it would be better to stay and undergo self-quarantine than go somewhere else where they might get infected and spread the novel coronavirus disease.

A travel ban will also be imposed on Siargao Island, which is among the top 10 best tourist destinations in the world according to renowned travel magazine Conde Nast, starting March 18 until March 30, the governor said.

Lawyer Zander Plaza, provincial administrator, elaborated that only island residents can gain entry to Siargao once the travel ban takes effect, and that they will be required to go on self-quarantine.

As of March 16 morning, at least of 298 people were classified as persons under monitoring (PUMs) in Surigao del Norte.

Siargao Island has 117 PUMs while 45 others are in Surigao City, according to the Department of Health-Caraga (DOH-Caraga).

There are three persons under investigation (PUIs) who were confined at the Caraga Regional Hospital in Surigao City and two others in Tandag City, it added.

Dr. Jose Llacuna, Jr., DOH-Caraga director, said that they are seriously working with other agencies to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic to plague the region.

As of Monday morning, Caraga region remained free from the novel coronavirus disease, he said.