PRESIDENT Duterte ordered a temporary travel ban covering all tourists from Hubei in China following the country’s first confirmed case of the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) .
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the travel ban will last until the threat is over.
The Department of Health (DOH) said it will also recommend the expansion of the travel ban to cover more Chinese provinces, as more and more new cases have been reported.
As of Friday afternoon, Jan. 31, 2020 Mainland China reported 9,692 confirmed cases of the new virus and the death toll rose to 213 from 170, the Associated Press reported.
In the Philippines, the DOH said there is no additional positive case, but two more patients have been placed under investigation (PUI) for the 2019-nCoV ARD as of 12 noon Friday, bringing the total recorded number of PUIs to 31.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared, Friday, the 2019-nCoV ARD as a public health emergency of international concern, but the WHO Emergency Committee on Novel Coronavirus under the International Health Regulations does not recommend the imposition of any travel or trade restrictions.
“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries. Our greatest concern is the potential for this virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems which are ill-prepared to deal with it,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Experts say there is significant evidence the virus is spreading among people in China and have noted with concern instances in other countries — including the United States, France, Japan, Germany, Canada, South Korea and Vietnam — where there have also been isolated cases of human-to-human transmission.
Russia announced it was closing its 2,600-mile border with China, joining Mongolia and North Korea in barring crossings to guard against a new viral outbreak. It had been de facto closed because of the Lunar New Year holiday, but Russian authorities said the closure would be extended until March 1.
Meanwhile, the United States and South Korea confirmed their first cases of person-to-person spread of the virus. The man in the U.S. is married to a 60-year-old Chicago woman who got sick from the virus after she returned from a trip to Wuhan, the Chinese city that is the epicenter of the outbreak.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia welcomed the President’s decision to ban Chinese tourists from Wuhan City and Hubei Province in China.
Garcia said this would mean fewer passengers have to undergo a 14-day quarantine in Cebu, as fewer tourists would be allowed to travel due to the order.
“With this, our burdens are lessened,” Garcia said. (ANV, FVQ, SunStar Philippines, AP / RSR)