DOH says no need to deny entry to visitors from mainland China amid 2019-nCoV threat


Posted at Jan 29 2020 10:46 PM | Updated as of Jan 29 2020 10:52 PM

MANILA - The Philippines' health chief sees no need yet for the Philippines to close its doors to tourists from mainland China amid rising number of cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

In a House plenary session Wednesday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said denying entry to Chinese visitors may cause problems since China is not the only country with confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

"We have to be very careful also about the possible repercussions of doing this, in light of the fact that the confirmed cases of coronaviruses are not limited to China," he told House members.

“If we do this, then the concerned country, China in this case, might question why we’re not doing this for all the other countries that have reported confirmed cases of the nCoV.”

Duque said they have intensified precautionary measures against possible coronavirus cases in the country. 

“Our quarantine officers are well equipped to make sure patients who will be classified as persons under investigation will be isolated, consequently they will be subjected to further evaluation,” Duque said.

Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, meanwhile, sought the ban of mainland Chinese visitors in the Philippines to avoid the spread of the coronavirus in the country. 

"Let me not be misconstrued. I just value too much the health of Filipino people. This is not actually my personal belief, but I have been asked," Legarda said during the plenary session.

“I realize there are political and diplomatic repercussions. But for me, the health of the Filipino people, if that is at stake, we must do everything to protect our people."

The DOH earlier said they were monitoring 23 suspected cases of the coronavirus as 4 others have already tested negative.

The Philippines remains free from the 2019-nCoV that has already claimed at least 132 lives in China and infected nearly 6,000 others.- Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News