Envoy rejects PH travel ban to China

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2020 09:10 AM | Updated as of Jan 30 2020 09:36 AM

Passengers arriving at the NAIA Terminal 1 in Parañaque City wear face masks as a precaution on January 23, 2020, as the country raises the alert to prevent the spread of an undetermined strain of the coronavirus originating from Wuhan, China. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Imposing a travel ban to China is not needed, the Philippine's Ambassador to Beijing said Thursday as the death toll of the new coronavirus continued to climb in the mainland.

China has imposed a lockdown in 18 cities in Hubei province, where the virus was first detected.

"A travel ban in a sense is not needed because a travel ban has been imposed by China itself," Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sto. Romana told ANC's Early Edition.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, however, has directed its embassy there not to issue visas to residents of Hubei, where the virus originated, and Chinese citizens with recent history of travel to the province.

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Philippine authorities are also preparing for the repatriation of some 50 Filipinos in China.

They are, however, urged to "rethink the situation" as returning home to Manila would mean "increased risk to exposure" to the virus, Sto. Romana said.

"The WHO (World Health Organization) director-general actually visited Beijing and had talks with Chinese officials. He himself said evacuation is not necessary, quarantine is the best way," he said.

"Exercise self-quarantine, minimize social contact. This is the best way," he said.

The new strain of virus, which can cause a pneumonia-like acute respiratory infection, has not infected any Filipinos in China, according to the diplomat.

Those who wish to return home will be placed under a 14-day quarantine, health officials earlier said.