Visa-free entry to Jeju Island for Pinoys suspended due to coronavirus outbreak

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 07 2020 02:43 PM

Canola flowers and cherry blossoms adorn a highway in Jeju Island, South Korea. Thea Alberto-Masakayan, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- Filipino tourists bound for Jeju Island in South Korea will no longer be allowed to visit the tourist spot without a visa, the Bureau of Immigration said Friday as the East Asian country guards against the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus.

The new travel protocol was implemented after the Korean Embassy in Manila told the Bureau of Immigration of the temporary suspension of visa-free entry of Filipino tourists to Jeju.

"We have already instructed our immigration officers not to allow the departure of any Filipino bound for Jeju unless the passenger was issued a visa by the Korean embassy," BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina said in a statement.

There are no direct flights from Manila to Jeju, except for chartered flights.

The suspension of visa-free entry privileges to Jeju is not limited to Filipinos but to all foreign tourists as well, Medina added.

The virus, which originated from Wuhan City in China, has prompted governments worldwide to step up precautionary measures against the pathogen which is rapidly spreading.

The Philippines confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus, which causes flu-like symptoms last week, prompting the government to bar travel to China and its territories.

The virus has killed at least 630 people and infected more than 30,000 worldwide in a matter of weeks, authorities said Friday.