By Catherine S Valente /Manila Times
The Philippine government has barred Filipinos from travelling to South Korea, where cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) have risen.
The country also barred the entry of travellers coming from the North Gyeongsang province of South Korea.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved the travel ban during their meeting yesterday.
“The Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease met today and it has approved to impose a ban on the entry of travellers coming from the North Gyeongsang province of South Korea into Philippine territory effective immediately,” Panelo told reporters.
“With respect to other parts of South Korea, the IATF-EID shall conduct a risk assessment of the situation within 48 hours to analyse whether it is necessary to expand the travel ban.”
When asked if Filipino tourists are not allowed to travel to any part of South Korea, Panelo said, “Yes, for their own safety.”
“The Inter-agency has authorised Filipinos to travel to South Korea, provided they are permanent residents thereof, or leaving for study, or are overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). They are to execute and sign a declaration signifying their knowledge and (understanding) of the risks involved prior to their travel,” he said. “The safety of Filipinos here and abroad remain our primary concern. Our countrymen’s welfare is foremost in the mind of the president and as well as concerned officials,” he added.
As of yesterday, there were 1,146 cases of Covid-19 in South Korea, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of this number, 134 were from Daegu City in North Gyeongsang. South Korea President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday tagged the situation in the country as “very grave.”
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles earlier said that none of the confirmed cases were Filipinos. Imposing a travel ban on South Korea is also seen to significantly damage the local tourism industry, as South Korea has been the country’s largest source of tourists for the past five years.
In 2019, 1.9mn South Koreans visited the country. Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided a $2mn fund that developing Asian countries like the Philippines can use to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.
In a statement yesterday, the Manila-based multilateral lender said the funds will be available for all ADB developing member countries in updating and implementing their pandemic response plans, including buying emergency supplies and equipment; assessing health system and economic impacts to improve future resilience; and co-ordinating better regionally to prevent, detect, and respond to animal and human disease outbreaks.
“The severity of the Covid-19 outbreak is escalating, and past disease outbreaks have had large impacts on social and economic development,” said ADB Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono.
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