New Zealand's two new COVID-19 cases are travelers from Philippines — health ministry

New Zealand's two new COVID-19 cases are travelers from Philippines â  health ministry
This photo taken on February 23, 2020 shows a worker cleaning chairs at the boarding area while arriving passengers disembark at the international airport in Manila.
AFP / Romeo Gacad

MANILA, Philippines — New Zealand reported Wednesday two new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), both travelers from the Philippines.

The country’s Ministry of Health said the two patients are in isolation facilities and arrived in New Zealand from the Philippines via Hong Kong.

The first case is a man in his 20s who arrived in New Zealand on July 23.

“He has been in managed isolation at the Rydges in Rotorua and tested negative for COVID-19 around day three of his stay. He has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility after testing positive around day 12 of his stay in managed isolation,” the health ministry said.

The second case is a woman in her 40s who arrived in the country on August 1. She tested positive for the coronavirus around the third day of her stay in an isolation facility.

The two new cases brought the caseload of New Zealand—a nation of five million people—to 1,219. The number of active cases or patients who are currently ill in quarantine facilities stood at 24, with no one receiving hospital-level care. 

The Pacific island nation’s response to COVID-19 has been recognized as a success due to its early border closures and lockdown, and extensive testing and contact tracing operation.

The Philippines, meanwhile, is struggling to contain the health crisis with its swamped and exhausted medical workers warning the country is losing the war against the coronavirus. With a total of 112,593 cases, the Philippines is now close to overtaking Indonesia as the nation with the highest number of infections in Southeast Asia.

Although New Zealand identified the travelers as having come from the Philippines, its health ministry did not say that they were Filipinos. 

Non-essential travel briefly allowed in July

The Philippines briefly allowed Filipinos to go on non-essential travel out of the country in July subject to several conditions. This was suspended again on July 23.

Travelers on tourist visas are required to have confirmed round-trip tickets while all Filipinos leaving the country must have travel and health insurance to cover potential rebookings of flights as well as any hospitalization costs.

They must also execute a declaration that they understand the risks of travel during a pandemic.

Filipinos are allowed to travel on the condition that they would be "allowed entry by the destination country in accordance with their travel, health, and quarantine restrictions." — Gaea Katreena Cabico



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