ON the recommendation of the Department of Health President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a temporary ban on Chinese nationals from China’s Hubei province, where Wuhan City — the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak— is located.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo confirmed the order yesterday morning, hours after the DOH has confirmed that a female Chinese from Wuhan is the country’s first confirmed novel coronavirus case.
The Palace official said the travel ban includes “other places in China where there is a spread of the disease.”
“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 there is a spread of the disease. It will last until the threat is over given that that the safety of our countrymen is foremost in the President’s mind,” said Panelo.
Asked to clarify which specific areas in China are included in the travel ban, Panelo said the Chinese government will be the one to confirm which places are already hit by the virus.
“That will be confirmed by the Chinese government. Sila ang magsasabi nu’n (They will be the one to announce)” he said.
Panelo also appealed to the public to follow the advice of the DOH to observe personal hygiene as a preventive measure like regularly washing one’s hands and wearing face masks when going around crowded areas.
To date, China has reported 9,692 confirmed cases of the new virus with a death toll of 213. Eighteen other countries have since reported cases, as scientists race to understand how exactly the virus is spreading and how severe it is. In Hubei alone, there are 4,903 cases, including 162 deaths.
The new coronavirus strain has now infected more people in China than were sickened there during the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, a cousin of the new virus.
The World Health Organization has already declared the outbreak as a global emergency, which the UN health agency defines as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.