'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.


As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 1, 2020 - 9:39pm

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

June 1, 2020 - 9:39pm

South Africa's education minister apologizes on Monday for a week-long delay in reopening schools owing to a lack of "readiness".

Thousands of grade seven and grade 12 students had been preparing to attend the first classes in the country after two and a half months of home-schooling to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The education department announced late on Sunday that it had postponed the resumption date to June 8, saying the extra week would serve to better prepare facilities and train staff.

"It became clear that the sector was at different levels of readiness," Education Minister Angelina Motshekga said at a press briefing on Monday. — AFP

June 1, 2020 - 5:05pm

The Philippines logs 552 additional COVID-19 cases (119 "fresh" cases and 433 "late" cases), pushing the country's total number of confirmed cases to 18,638.

The Department of Health also reports 70 new recoveries, raising the total number of recovered patients to 3,979.

Three additional deaths were also recorded, bringing the national death toll to 960.

June 1, 2020 - 8:00am

More than one million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Latin America and the Caribbean, half of them in Brazil, according to an AFP toll on Sunday based on official data.

Since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic 1,016,828 people have been infected, with 514,849 cases recorded in Brazil, which currently has the world's fourth highest COVID-19 death toll after the United States, Britain and Italy. — AFP

June 1, 2020 - 7:58am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 370,261 people since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1900 GMT Sunday. 

At least 6,113,340 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 2,520,800 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

May 31, 2020 - 2:59pm

Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound -- the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia -- reopened on Sunday after being closed for more than two months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dozens of worshippers in protective masks were let into the compound before the first prayers of the day, held in a cool and windy night.

Chanting "God is greatest, we will protect Al-Aqsa with our soul and blood", the group gathered in front of the large wooden doors were welcomed by mosque director Omar al-Kiswani, who thanked them for their patience.

It followed a fraught day in annexed east Jerusalem, where the compound is located.

Israeli police on Saturday shot dead a disabled Palestinian they mistakenly thought was armed, prompting furious condemnation from the Palestinians.

The religious site, which houses Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, had closed its doors in March as part of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. — AFP

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