President Rodrigo Duterte temporarily banned the entry of all travelers from China except Filipino citizens and resident visa holders as the country reported the first coronavirus-related death Sunday.
READ: PH confirms first virus case
The ban includes the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.
The President also prohibited Filipinos from traveling to China and its special administrative regions to prevent the spread of the virus, which has so far killed 304 people according to the Chinese government—an outbreak dubbed by the World Health Organization as a public health emergency.
READ: First virus death in Manila bared
President Duterte also ordered a mandatory 14-day quarantine for Filipinos and permanent resident visa holders coming from any place in China and its special administrative regions, as he approved the establishment of a repatriation and quarantine facility to contain the virus, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
Singapore, the United States, Australia, and Russia earlier imposed travel restrictions and suspended flights to and from China, despite WHO’s advice that global trade and travel restrictions were unnecessary.
Other countries have also pulled their citizens out of Wuhan City in Hubei province.
The President is set to hold a meeting Monday with the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
“We assure the Filipino people that the directives issued by the President, the protocols being implemented, as well as succeeding ones, are all geared for the safety of our countrymen and will last until the danger of the dreaded disease has ceased,” Panelo said.
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All government agencies and offices were also directed to adopt and implement the guidelines which the task force might issue until the nCoV threat is over, he added.
Panelo said the task force was also given the authority to ban the entry of travelers from other areas with widespread confirmed nCOV cases.
Panelo reminded the public to observe preventive measures recommended by the Health Department against the virus, such as washing hands and wearing surgical masks when going around crowded places.
READ: Bird flu hits city near nCoV epicenter
Air passengers who have already booked flights to China are advised to coordinate with their respective airlines or travel agencies, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Ed Monreal said on Sunday.
Monreal issued the statement just hours after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the expansion of the temporary travel ban order and barred Filipinos from traveling to China, Hong Kong and Macao.
READ: Outbreak: 45 new fatalities in China
Duterte initially approved on Friday the recommendation to impose a temporary travel ban on travelers coming from Wuhan City and the entire Hubei province in China.
The 2019-nCov, which originates in Wuhan, China, continues to spread to more than a dozen countries, most of which are Asian countries.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Sunday advised its foreign offices in China to relay information about the temporary travel ban.
In a statement, the DOT said a mandatory 14-day quarantine for Filipinos and permanent resident visa holders coming from any place in China and its Special Administrative Regions is also required.
The directive excludes Filipino citizens and holders of permanent resident visas issued by the Philippine government.
Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday said President Rodrigo Duterte should address the country about the nCoV threat, instead of having his Cabinet secretary do the talking.
READ: Deadliest day in China as nCoV toll rises to 170
In her weekly radio program, Robredo said the President must speak out and report the real situation.
She, however, said the Filipino people must not put the blame on the Chinese people, adding “they are victims, too.”
“We must be sympathetic. This is not a fight against China or its people,” she said.
More House leaders on Sunday joined calls to stop the spread of anti-Chinese racism in the wake of global outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., and Ako Bisaya party-list Rep. Sonny Lagon expressed disappointment that the hostility sparked by the deadly virus is now becoming a serious case of China-bashing.
“Please work for the common good of everyone. Avoid sowing panic. Stop spreading false information and hate campaign against Chinese people. Let’s pray for good health and the immediate recovery of those who have been affected,” Romualdez said.
Barzaga, a vice chairman of the House committee on health, said resorting to “worst stereotypes” against Chinese people would not help the country.
READ: Public warned: No cure for n-CoV; only hygiene
“No debate, all of us are very scared of the 2019-nCoV, but let’s be fair and humane. They (Chinese) are victims,” he added.
“Chinese people are victims and we should not exacerbate their sufferings by issuing harsh statements against them,” Lagon said.
Adamson University, meanwhile, apologized for ordering its graduate and undergraduate Chinese students to quarantine themselves “to ensure a healthy and virus-free environment.”
The memo also urged Chinese nationals to postpone all transactions inside the university until Feb. 14.
Social media users slammed Adamson for what they called a racist memo.
“Apparently, the president of Adamson University wants all of its Chinese students to self-quarantine themselves. Just the Chinese students. That’s racist,” one Twitter user wrote.
“This memo is downright xenophobic,” another Twitter user said. With PNA
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