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Duterte not inclined to ban Philippines-China flights for now

President Rodrigo Duterte is not keen on the idea of banning flights to and from areas in China affected by the novel coronavirus epidemic.

“Not yet at this time. As a matter of fact, there is no known transmission from human to human na galing China,” Duterte told reporters in Quezon City on Wednesday.

Duterte said imposing a travel ban might be difficult to undertake.

“Mahirap 'yang sabihin mo you suspend everything because they are not also suspending theirs and they continue to respect the freedom, flights that we enjoy in their country,” he said.

Even before the President’s pronouncement, aviation officials had already suspended all direct flights to and from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the viral outbreak.

The Bureau of Immigration also temporarily stopped issuing tourist visas on arrival to Chinese nationals in a bid to curb their arrival and minimize the chance of virus transmission.

Officials also urged Filipinos to avoid all non-essential travel to China.

The novel coronavirus has already killed 132 people, infected nearly 6,000, and spread to at least 15 countries.

“There is no known vaccine. This is a mysterious disease and we are just preparing maybe for the worst,” Duterte said.

“We can marshal what we have but what we do not now, we are at a loss really on what to do, just like other nations now.” —LDF, GMA News