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Duterte bars travelers from China's Hubei province from entering Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a ban on visitors from Hubei province in China as well as from other Chinese areas hit by the novel coronavirus (nCoV), according to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Friday.

"Upon the recommendation of DOH Secretary Francisco Duque, the President has issued a travel ban to Chinese nationals coming from the Hubei province of China where the nCoV originated, as well in other places in China where the disease has spread," Panelo said.

Panelo issued the statement a day after the Department of Health (DOH) announced the first nCoV case in the country — a 38-year-old woman from Wuhan City in China. Wuhan is a city in Hubei province.

Less than a day after the DOH's announcement, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared global emergency over the nCov due to the potential of the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems.

Panelo said Duterte instructed the DOH to commence the protocols it has prepared to contain the disease and prevent its transmission.                                   

GMA News Online has reached out to Panelo to ask him to specify other Chinese areas covered by the ban, but he has yet to reply as of posting time.

Panelo assured the public that the infected patient in the Philippines is under treatment and confined in isolation.

"There is no way that she  will transmit the disease to another person as the hospital personnel are protectively dressed; their mouths and noses covered with surgical masks and their hands covered with gloves," he said.

Panelo said the DOH has given the assurance that every measure is being undertaken to contain the spread of the virus.

"We ask our the public to follow the advice of the DOH in taking preventive measures such as regularly washing one’s hands and wearing surgical masks in crowded areas," he added.

Death toll

The number of confirmed deaths from the virus outbreak has already risen to 213 after Hubei reported 42 new fatalities on Friday.

China said it had the confidence and capability to win the war against the virus, even as the outbreak has triggered a massive surge in demand for protective masks.

Pilots and flight attendants worldwide are already demanding airlines to stop flights to China the declaration of the global emergency.

Cancel rides

In the Philippines, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has directed all public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and conductors to wear face masks.

Drivers of a ride-sharing company said its drivers have the right to cancel rides if they suspect that their passengers are afflicted with the virus.

A couple in Quezon City is under investigation for possible new coronavirus infection.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) advised all local government units to create novel coronavirus task forces to help curb the spread of the disease. —KBK/MDM, GMA News