'Travel with me': Duterte urges Filipinos to visit local destinations amid COVID-19 scare
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - February 14, 2020 - 4:15pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte called on Filipinos to patronize domestic travel to counter the negative effects of the spread of coronavirus disease to the local tourism industry. 

“To my fellow Filipinos, I encourage you travel with me around the Philippines,” Duterte said in a taped message Friday.

He added: “Come with me and be my travel companion. I’ll be traveling around the Philippines. Let’s go around the Philippines. Let’s prioritize our own.”

The chief executive issued the message after the government banned foreign nationals coming from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This led to canceled flights, and hotel and tour bookings across the country.

The Department of Tourism reported the local tourism industry is expected to lose an estimated P42.9 billion from February to April due to the SARS-like virus.

Chinese—hit hardest by COVID-19—are the second biggest group of foreign visitors next to Korean tourists.

Duterte assured the public that everything is “safe in the Philippines — “be it an issue of health, be it an issue of law and order, and be it an issue of accessibility.”

“There are many beautiful places in the Philippines. You don’t have to worry about a thing,” he said.

The president added that tourism and aviation stakeholders have agreed to lower airfare and hotel rates “so that we can be a viable market for the Philippines.”

Duterte on Thursday urged Filipinos to “remain calm and vigilant” and take precautionary measures amid the ongoing outbreak.

The coronavirus disease that emerged in China at the end of 2019 has infected more than 46,000 and killed more than 1,300. There are two reported deaths outside mainland China: one in the Philippines and the other in Hong Kong.

The Health department said there are 230 patients under investigation currently admitted in hospitals.


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LATEST UPDATE: April 1, 2020 - 8:01pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

April 1, 2020 - 8:01pm

Authorities say the coronavirus death toll in Spain surged over 9,000 on Wednesday after a record 864 deaths in 24 hours, with the number of confirmed cases passing the 100,000 mark.

Spain has the world's second-highest death toll after Italy, with the virus so far claiming 9,053 lives and the number of confirmed cases reaching 102,136. — AFP

April 1, 2020 - 7:02pm

GCash, the leading mobile wallet in the Philippines, has facilitated over P18.14 million in donations to support frontliners amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The funds were used to purchase protective gears for health workers and relief goods for the families affected by the enhanced community lockdown. 

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the Filipino GCash users. We know very well that everyone is affected by the pandemic, and we at GCash are happy to see that our platform is being maximized during these trying times,” GCash Chief Technology and Operations Officer Pebbles Sy-Manalang says.

April 1, 2020 - 4:23pm

The Department of Health confirms 227 new COVID-19 cases, which raises the national total to 2,311.

The country also registered eight new fatalities, bringing the national death toll to 96.

The DOH also announced the recovery of one patient, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 50.

April 1, 2020 - 1:31pm

The Department of Labor and Employment allows employers to defer payment of holiday pay of workers for Holy Week in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a memo released Wednesday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III says holiday pay from April 9 to 11 may be deferred "until such time that the present emergency situation has been abated and the normal operations of the establishment is in place.

Establishments that totally closed or stopped operation during the enhanced community quarantine period will also be exempted from payment of holiday pay.

April 1, 2020 - 11:54am

The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in the US, in coordination with other government agencies, repatriated a total of 881 Filipino seafarers from the United States.

The group of repatriates — 445 seafarers from Norwegian Cruises Dawn and Encore, and another 436 from MV Magica and MV Favolosa — arrived in the country early Wednesday.

The repatriates will undergo a 14-day quarantine monitored by the Bureau of Quarantine.

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