Local carriers Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines (PAL) on Tuesday denied Health Secretary Francisco Duque III's allegation that they have not shared the contact information of passengers on the flights taken by the country's two confirmed novel coronavirus cases.
“Airlines are not sharing the contact details of the passengers. They are invoking confidentiality," Duque said at a Senate hearing as he blamed both airlines for the slow contact tracing of air passengers who were possibly exposed to the Chinese couple who tested positive for the virus.
PAL denied the allegation at the same hearing.
"We confirm that we released to the Department of Health, through the Bureau of Quarantine, the full unredacted manifest of our 25 January 2020 flight PR2542 from Dumaguete to Manila, which includes the contact details of the passengers on the flight PAL's vice president for security General Caesar Ronnie F. Ordoyo told the Senate Committee on Health.
"We are also assisting the BOQ in the call-out of the passengers. We will always do our part to cooperate fully with the responsible authorities when it concerns the health and safety of the general public," he added.
In a statement, PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said the flag carrier also got in touch with the passengers.
“Philippine Airlines shared contact details of passengers of the concerned flight. We shared it to enable DOH to carry out the callouts and on top of that, PAL carried out callouts," she said.
“We have provided passenger manifest information to the Department of Health in relation to PR 2542 Dumaguete-Manila. On top of that, PAL also reached out to the passengers. The flight carried 132 passengers,” she added.
For its, part budget carrier Cebu Pacific said that there is no impediment whatsoever for the airline “to provide any and all information that the DOH and Bureau of Quarantine would need for their purposes.”
“Per the request of both the DOH and BOQ, CEB has already provided a list of the passengers aboard both flights,” it said.
Cebu Pacific said it has also contacted the passengers aboard the flights taken by the nCoV-positive patients and updated authorities on those it has been able to speak with.
“As an additional measure, Cebu Pacific opened a hotline to enable passengers aboard the specific flights to call the airline,” it said.
Cebu Pacific also noted that it has been in close coordination with the DOH, the BOQ and other government agencies to help manage the risk of contamination from the nCoV.
The DOH said that a 38-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan, China tested positive for the virus on Thursday last week.
On Saturday, the woman's 44-year-old Chinese male companion died due to nCoV.
They arrived in the country from Hong Kong on January 21 and were admitted to San Lazaro Hospital on January 25.
Cebu Pacific flights flew the Chinese couple from Hong Kong to Cebu and from Cebu to Dumaguete, while a Philippine Airlines flight took them from Dumaguete to Manila. — BM, GMA News