Duterte extends travel ban to visitors from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau amid nCoV scare
Passengers wear face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus as they arrive on a flight from Asia, at Los Angeles International Airport, California, on Feb. 1, 2020. A new virus that has killed more than two hundred people, infected thousands and has already reached the US could mutate and spread, China warned, as authorities urged people to steer clear of Wuhan, the city at the heart of the outbreak.
Mark Ralston/AFP

Duterte extends travel ban to visitors from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau amid nCoV scare

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - February 2, 2020 - 10:23am

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte extended his earlier travel ban on the Hubei Province in China to include the mainland and special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau, Sen. Bong Go confirmed Sunday. 

Following the Department of Health's confirmation of a woman carrying the novel coronavirus in Manila (2019 nCoV), Duterte issued the initial ban on the Hubei Province alone, where Wuhan, the virus' epicenter, is located. This came after Senate lawmakers urged the government to issue a temporary ban on Chinese visitors.

The patient who tested positive for the virus, a 38-year-old woman who arrived in the Philippines on January 21 from Wuhan, flew to the country via Hong Kong. 

"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," Go said in an interview with "Dobol B sa News TV."

The senator also clarified that even foreign travelers who had travel history in China 14 days before their arrival in the Philippines would be barred from entering the country. The ban, he said, would cover "any person except Filipino citizens and holders of permanent resident visa issued by the Philippine government directly coming from China and its special administrative regions."

The Department of Foreign affairs temporarily suspended visa issuances to travelers from Hubei, but Duterte and the Department of Health both said they don't feel that a full-on travel ban was necessary, pointing out that it could damage diplomatic relations with China. 

Users on social media did not take this well as "Oust Duterte" went trending on Twitter in the hours following these statements. 

"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," Go added.

As of this writing, there are 31 persons under investigation as possible carriers of the virus in the Philippines. 

Vice President Leni Robredo on her radio show Sunday morning lamented the delay in coming to the decision, saying that it should have been made much sooner. 

"Hindi ito pag-discriminate against anyone. Ang sinasabi natin ay yung mga flights galing doon ay grabe yung contamination," she said of the president's pronouncement that Beijing could take it the wrong way and that such a ban could damage the countries' ties. 

"Hindi siya nakakatulong at a time like this. Dapat mas decisive [at] mas swift."

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