SBMA approves P5 million fund for COVID-19 emergency

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has approved a P5-million supplemental fund for equipment and supplies to respond to the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) emergency.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the agency’s board of directors authorized the appropriation during its meeting on Tuesday after the SBMA began its disinfection protocol in offices and other public areas in the Freeport over the weekend.

Eisma said the P5-milion budget will be used to purchase additional spraying equipment and disinfecting agents to sustain a twice-a-day spraying schedule, as well as protective gears like hazmat (hazardous materials) suits, and a new ambulance.

Part of the supplemental fund will also go to the maintenance of a quarantine facility at the Subic Bay International Airport complex, she added.
SBMA director Marvin Macapagal said the board unanimously approved the supplemental budget because it was important to maintain Subic’s safety and security to keep it attractive to investors and secure for its stakeholders.

SBMA Deputy Administrator for Public Health and Safety Ronnie Yambao the SBMA has already spent almost P1 million for the initial purchase of face masks, thermal scanners, goggles, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to equip health personnel here in the battle against Covid-19.

He added that the Subic authority has also mobilized a 24/7 medical team to coordinate health events and concerns with the Department of Health (DOH) and its accredited and referral hospitals and the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU), and set up 24/7 telephone helpline to answer any Covid-related inquiry.

Yambao said the SBMA also has a report and contact-tracing system in place. This is manned by personnel from the Occupational Health and Safety Division, who are tasked with monitoring the 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers here.

Last Sunday, Eisma ordered the start of a disinfection protocol in SBMA offices and public areas in the Subic Freeport after President Rodrigo Duterto declared the country in a state of public health emergency with the confirmation of the first case of community-based infection.

The disinfection protocol is being carried out by the SBMA Public Health and Safety Department initially in all SBMA offices and public areas, but Eisma said business locators and other Subic stakeholders are now also implementing their own safety measures.

Eisma also reminded the public that other health safety protocols announced by the SBMA previously will remain in force. These include the ban on entry of people, ships and aircraft coming from COVID-hit countries, as well as voluntary quarantine of those who recently travelled abroad and thermal scanning at Subic Bay Freeport gates for foreign visitors.

Meanwhile, SBMA director Brian Gordon clarified that despite the urgency with which the agency responded to the virus threat, there has been no reported cases of Covid-19 infection here so far.

“But we are not waiting for that to happen, so we go ahead and implement measures to keep this free port safe,” Gordon said. “It is in the interest of the SBMA and the Freeport to be equipped and prepared and we hope the locators and businesses will follow suit,” he added.

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