The Philippines on Wednesday imposed travel restrictions on parts of South Korea and barred Filipino tourists from going to the East Asian nation due to rising cases of the deadly novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease approved the entry ban on travelers coming from the North Gyeongsang province of South Korea effective immediately.
He also said Filipino tourists would not be allowed to travel to the whole of South Korea.
Panelo said exempted from the travel ban are permanent residents, those leaving for study, and overseas Filipino workers provided they sign a declaration signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved prior to their travel.
“With respect to other parts of South Korea, the IATF shall conduct a risk assessment of the situation in the aforesaid country within 48 hours to analyze whether it is necessary to expand the travel ban thereto,” he said.
“In the meantime, strict protocols with respect to travelers entering the country from these areas in South Korea will continue to be observed.”
BREAKING NEWS: Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, nagpalabas ng travel ban sa mga magtutungo at manggagaling sa North Gyeongsang province, South Korea dahil sa COVID-19. | via @VargasMannysen pic.twitter.com/Z8y9T1ZJjM— DZBB Super Radyo (@dzbb) February 26, 2020
As of Wednesday, there were 1,146 cases of COVID-19 in South Korea, the Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (KCDC) said.
Of this number, 134 were from Daegu City in North Gyeongsang.
The Philippine Department of Health on Monday said there is no confirmed case of Filipinos infected by COVID-19 in South Korea.
On Sunday, South Korea raised its alert on COVID-19 to the highest level due to the rapid surge in number of cases.
World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the jump in new COVID-19 cases in South Korea, Iran and Italy is "deeply concerning."
The novel coronavirus started from Wuhan, China and spread to many countries.
The death toll has reached 2,715 in China, its National Health Commission said on Wednesday.
The coronavirus disease outbreak in China had prompted the Philippine government on February 2 to impose a travel ban on mainland China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau.
Manila later included Taiwan in the travel ban but this was eventually lifted on February 14.
Last week, the Philippines removed the travel ban for Filipino overseas workers, students and permanent residents bound for Hong Kong and Macau.
However, the ban on Filipinos going to the two Chinese territories as tourists is still in place.
“The safety and security of Filipinos here and outside the Philippines remain our primary concern,” Panelo said.
“Our countrymen's welfare is foremost in our minds as concerned officials discuss updates and recommendations on the management of the coronavirus.” —KG, GMA News