Inter-agency task force OKs Korea travel ban

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Inter-agency task force OKs Korea travel ban
Workers from the Korea Pest Control Association, wearing protective gear, spray disinfectant to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus at a market in Seoul on February 24, 2020. South Korea reported 161 more coronavirus cases on February 24, taking the nationwide total to 763 and making it the world's largest total outside China.
AFP / Jung Yeon-je

MANILA, Philippines — An inter-agency task force approved the resolution on temporary travel ban to South Korea amid rising cases of COVID-19 in the East Asian country on Friday morning.

In a resolution, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease imposed a temporary travel ban to Filipinos travelling to South Korea—except overseas Filipino workers, those studying and permanent residents of South Korea— amid the rising confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the East Asian country.

Returning or newly-hired OFWs are directed to execute a “Declaration” signifying their knowledge and understanding of risks involved.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra released a copy of the resolution to reporters. He stressed that the resolution is for "immediate implementation; i.e. today."

Under the resolution, passengers of any nationality—except Filipinos and their foreign spouse and children, permanent visa holders and diplomat visa holders—who are arriving from North Gyeongsang province are barred from entering the Philippines.

Those who have been to North Gyeongsang in the last 14 days, except those listed as excluded from the ban, will also be prohibited from entering the country.

The resolution is signed by members of the task force, representatives from the Departments of Health, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Local Government, Justice, Labor and Employment, Tourism, Transportation and Information and Communications Technology, Guevarra confirmed.

Cases in Korea

The IATF noted that on February 23, the South Korean government raised its highest alert level for COVID-19, following a significant rise of confirmed cases in the country.

As of morning of February 28, the South Korean government reported 256 new COVID-19 cases, taking its total to 2,022.

Daegu and Chaengdo are declared as “special care zones.” More than 90% of the new cases were in Daegu, the city epicenter of the outbreak in South Korea—and the neighboring North Gyeongsang province.

Flight suspension?

The resolution was signed two days after the Palace announced the travel ban.

The lack of guidelines from the government forced local airlines to put the matter in their own hands, with the Philippine Airlines turning away passengers with flight history to Daegu International Airport.

Cebu Pacific Air continued its service to passengers in the area, while AirAsia said Thursday that it is “[working] closely with government and airport authorities” for their compliance with the travel ban.

The Justice department said that Jeju Air and T-Way Air voluntarily suspended their Daegu to Cebu and Daegu to Kalibo flights as early as February 18.

The Immigration bureau has yet to reply to Philstar.com if they will impose additional guidelines to identify passenger who may have travelled to North Gyeongsang province by land to other airports in South Korea.





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