Jiufen, a mountaintop former gold mining town, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Taiwan.
Taiwan Tourism Bureau
Palace: Safety of Filipinos, not politics, reason for Taiwan's inclusion in COVID-19 travel ban
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - February 13, 2020 - 5:23pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ move to include Taiwan in the government’s expanded travel ban—a decision denounced by the island nation—has nothing to do with politics, Malacañang said Thursday.

The Philippines first banned foreign nationals coming from China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau from entering the country over the deadly coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak. Taiwan was later on added in a move described by the country’s foreign ministry as “wrong and unilateral.”

Presidential spokesperson denied that Taiwan’s inclusion to the travel restrictions was due to the so-called “one China” policy. Beijing views Taiwan—a self-ruled democracy—as part of a “one China” and vowed to eventually take the island.

“Last night, the president said my primary concern is the health, the safety of our countrymen. Until the danger persists then we have to do what is necessary to secure their safety,” Panelo said.

Taiwan’s foreign minister spokesperson Joanne Ou said it is unfair to lump the country together with China.

“China’s shadow is lurking… I think the Chinese factor is obvious,” she said Tuesday.

Taiwan's response

Taiwan reportedly has a planned response should the Philippines maintain its ban. Over 115,000 Filipinos live and work in Taiwan.

Panelo said that while Manila understands the reaction of Taipei to the travel restrictions, the island nation should recognize the concern of the Philippine government to the health and safety of its people.

“We also have our own interests—those of the health and safety of our people. We understand where their action is coming from but they should understand why we’re doing it,” he said.

The Philippines has so far not restricted travel to countries such as Singapore, Thailand, South Korea and Japan even though they have more confirmed infections than Taiwan, which currently has 18 confirmed cases of the new virus.

The coronavirus disease that emerged in China at the end of 2019 has killed over 1,300 people. There are two reported deaths outside mainland China: one in the Philippines and the other in Hong Kong. 

The Health department said there are 238 patients under investigation currently admitted in different health facilities. — with report from Agence France-Presse

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