'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.

 

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS RODRIGO DUTERTE TOURISM SECTOR
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 24, 2020 - 3:29pm

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

February 24, 2020 - 3:29pm

Authorities in Wuhan on Monday reversed a decision that would have allowed some people to leave the quarantined city at the centre of China's deadly virus epidemic, and reprimanded officials who had made the announcement.

The city government said in a statement that the previous announcement had been made by a traffic prevention and control group "without the consent" of the local leadership.

"The announcement is declared invalid. In this regard, we have seriously dealt with the relevant personnel," the city said on its official account on Twitter-like Weibo.

"Wuhan resolutely implements the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping's important instructions on 'preventing leaks (of the virus)' ... strictly manages the passages leaving from Wuhan, strictly controls personnel, and strictly prevents the epidemic from going out," it said.  — AFP

February 24, 2020 - 8:58am

Israel confirms its second case of the new coronavirus — a second returned citizen from the stricken cruise ship Diamond Princess.

"Another passenger who returned from the cruise ship in Japan has tested positive," a health ministry statement said.

"The patient is in isolation and under supervision and was not infected in Israel," it said.

The first case was announced on Friday. — AFP

February 24, 2020 - 8:57am

Iran's confirmed death toll from the new coronavirus rises to eight, the highest outside China, sending neighbouring countries scrambling to contain the outbreak.

Four immediate neighbours of the Islamic republic — Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Armenia — said on Sunday they would close land borders, while three imposed restrictions on air traffic, amid growing regional concerns about the spread of the virus.

Iraqi and Kuwaiti authorities have already banned travel to and from Iran.

Lebanon has confirmed its first case — a 45-year-old Lebanese woman who had travelled from Qom in Iran — and Israel on Sunday quarantined at home nearly 200 school pupils who came into contact with South Korean tourists who contracted the virus. — AFP

February 24, 2020 - 8:55am

Armenia will close its border with Iran and suspend flights, Prime Minister Nikol Pachinian announced Sunday, as fears over a deadly outbreak of the new coronavirus in Iran sent neighbouring countries scrambling to contain the outbreak.     

"Iran-Armenia air links and the entry of people into Armenia via the Meghri checkpoint", the only border crossing between the nations, "will be suspended", he said in a post on Twitter, adding that the measure was set to last two weeks. 

A special committee tasked with preventing the spread of the virus in Armenia will meet on Monday to discuss other possible steps in view of the situation in Iran, Pachinian said.

"There is no reason to be overcome by panic," he added. — AFP

February 24, 2020 - 8:54am

An elderly woman in hospital for cancer who tested positive for the new coronavirushas died, health officials in Italy said on Sunday. 

"She had been hospitalised for a few days," said Giulio Gallera, the health chief of the northern Lombardy region, the centre of a coronavirus outbreak. "She'd been tested and they already knew she had the coronavirus."

If coronavirus is determined to be the cause of death, the woman will be the third person in Italy to have died from the so-called COVID-19 epidemic. — AFP

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