By Francis Allan L. Angelo


THE Department of Health (DoH) and Boracay Foundation, Inc. (BFI) will mount a briefing on influenza A (H1N1) May 18 to prepare Boracay Island against the spread of the disease.


Glen Alonsabe, regional epidemiologist of DoH in Western Visayas, said the BFI and Department of Tourism (DoT) requested their office to hold the briefing because of the influx of foreign tourists in the island resort.


“We consider Boracay Island and the municipality of Malay as a critical point in our surveillance on the entry of A H1N1 flu in Western Visayas because of the airport and jetty port in Caticlan. The business community must be educated on the virus and how to react should there be suspected cases of infection,” Alonsabe said.


The Kalibo airport also caters to bi-weekly flights of Mandarin Airlines from Tapei to Kalibo, the capital town of Aklan province.


Dr. Adrian Salaver, Malay municipal health officer, said the briefing is part of their A (H1N1) flu preparation plan aside from monitoring foreigners bound for Boracay.


The Kalibo municipal government has requested for the installation of a thermal scanner at the airport.


But Lino Gregorio, chief of the Bureau of Quarantine regional office, said this is not feasible because the airport’s design will affect the sensors of the scanner.


“For the meantime, the thermal scanner is not feasible because of the humid environment in the Kalibo Airport. It should be placed in an air-conditioned area to monitor the temperatures of incoming passengers from regional flights,” Gregorio said.


The Kalibo airport is constructing a new passenger terminal building which is expected to operate October 2009.


Boracay Island is the country’s second top tourist destination for the first four months of 2009.


DoT data show that 158,030 tourists, including 63,903 foreign visitors, went to Boracay in the first quarter of this year.