Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go announced that the Philippines has officially imposed a temporary ban on travelers and tourists coming from China and its territories, including Hong Kong and Macau, in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (nCoV).
Sen. Go, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, made the announcement on Sunday morning, February 2, in an interview with Dobol B sa News TV on GMA News TV.
The senator said, "Sa ngayon ay mag-i-implement na ng temporary travel ban on travelers coming from any part of China and its special administrative regions on top of the existing temporary travel ban imposed on those coming from Hubei province and other affected areas."
He added, "Taking into consideration the concerns raised by key government officials and health experts, the President made a decision and has agreed to adopt this recommendation and implement it immediately as additional precautionary measure to protect the Filipinos.
"Sa ngayon ay magkakaroon na tayo ng travel ban sa lahat ng nanggagaling sa Tsina."
DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM ISSUES STATEMENT
The Department of Tourism (DOT) has released an official statement in line with this directive from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
DOT has immediately advised its foreign offices in China and its territories to inform all stakeholders/travel agencies bringing foreign tourists, on the latest directive to temporarily ban "the entry of any person, regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizens and holders of Permanent Resident Visa issued by the Philippine Government, directly coming from China and its Special Administrative Regions."
The DOT is also coordinating with the local travel trade sector to ensure the full implementation of this restriction.
According to DOT, the directive also includes the following travel guidelines:
- Temporarily banning the entry of any person, regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizens and holders of Permanent Resident Visa issued by the Philippine Government, who within fourteen (14) days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, has been to China and its Special Administrative Regions;
- A mandatory fourteen (14) day quarantine for Filipinos and Permanent Resident Visa holders coming from any place in China and its Special Administrative Regions;
- Temporary ban on Filipinos from travel to China and its Special Administrative Regions
The DOT also noted that they are working closely with all concerned government agencies on taking precautionary steps "to ensure the safety of Filipinos and travelers from other countries who are visiting the Philippines."
DOT Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said, "The safety and protection of our citizens thriving in our tourist spots, the employees of the tourism sector, and domestic and foreign tourists alike remain the Department of Tourism's priority.
"We call on everyone in the tourism industry to follow these directives until the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Philippine government deems it safe to resume travel."
NCOV IN THE PHILIPPINES
The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that there are already two reported cases of the nCov in the Philippines.
A 38-year-old woman who traveled to the Philippines from Wuhan, China tested positive for nCoV last week. Her companion, a 44-year-old man, also tested positive for the virus and unfortunately died on Saturday, February 1, marking the first confirmed death outside China.
During a press briefing on Sunday, February 2, the DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the 44-year-old man developed severe pneumonia. DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo added that the man had no preexisting illnesses.
Sec. Duque said, "The patient was stable and showed signs of improvement. However, the conditions of the patient deteriorated within the last 24 hours resulting in his demise."
As of February 1, Asian countries with laboratory-confirmed cases of nCoV are Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka.
Other countries with confirmed nCoV cases are Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom, Russia, Finland, Spain, Sweden, The U.S.A., Canada, and Australia.
According to CNN, more than 14,000 people have been infected by the nCov outbreak with over 300 resulting in fatalities.