Taiwan included in travel ban — DOH clarifies

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 10 2020 04:19 PM

Travelers pass through a screening lane by Philippines' the Bureau of Quarantine as they arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay, City on February 4, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Travelers from Taiwan are also included in the Philippines' travel ban amid the spread of novel coronavirus, the Department of Health clarified Monday.

“If you look at the WHO map and the number of cases that we have, Taiwan is included in China. Since we have a temporary travel restriction and ban on China then Taiwan is included,” Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said during a press conference.

Earlier this month, the Philippine government announced that it is banning the entry of all foreigners from China and its special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau because of the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD), which has left more than 900 people dead.

Domingo said Philippine agencies were initially confused that is why some flights were able to proceed. “By mid last week it was clear that Taiwan is included,” he said.

“As far as the health community is concerned and the World Health Organization is concerned, Taiwan is part of China.”

Like other countries, the Philippines follows the “One-China policy,” which considers Republic of China-controlled Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China.

Domingo said the ban on Taiwan is already in place.

“I believe since Friday, Saturday, Sunday parang nagkaroon na ng restrictions especially ngayong Sunday and Monday,” he said.

However, Taiwan has sent notice that it wants to appeal the ban. The ban is among the topics that will be discussed during the Wednesday meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases led by the DOH. 

Another issue that will be discussed is whether there will be a new batch of Filipinos that will be repatriated from the Philippines.

Domingo said travelers from Taiwan will simply undergo the same ban as those coming from China, Hong Kong and Macau.

“And Filipinos coming back are the only ones that will be allowed in (the country). Filipinos and permanent residents,” he said.

Domingo also explained that the travel ban is just temporary and it can be changed by the Task Force depending on their assessment of the situation.

While most of the tens of thousands of infected patients are in China, some have made their way to other parts of the globe. In the Philippines, all three cases of the 2019-nCoV ARD are travelers from China.