Philippines checks 'risk' of lifting Taiwan travel ban


Posted at Feb 13 2020 08:21 AM | Updated as of Feb 13 2020 03:19 PM

A tour agent Taiwan wears a surgical mask as a preventive measure in light of the coronavirus outbreak in China, Jan. 24, 2020. Carlos Jasso, Reuters

MANILA -- The Philippines is checking the "risk" of potentially lifting a travel ban on Taiwan, imposed to contain a coronavirus outbreak from China, Manila's health minister said Thursday. 

A Philippine inter-agency task force will meet Friday about possibly lifting the ban, based on the spike of new coronavirus cases in Taiwan and its protocol for screening travelers from China, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said. 

This, after authorities received reports of proposals for Taiwan to retaliate against the ban by scrapping visa-free entry for Filipinos.

"Iyang mga iyan ay atin talagang susuriing maigi para nakakasiguro tayo na kung mayroon mang risk, hindi ganoon kalaki iyong risk. Baka naman puwedeng maialis natin doon sa ban ang Taiwan," he told DZMM. 

(We will examine those factors thoroughly to ensure that if there's risk, it will not be that big. We could perhaps remove Taiwan from the ban.) 

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Aside from Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory, Manila banned all inbound travel from China and its special administrative regions Macau and Hong Kong. 

Taiwan has confirmed 18 cases of the novel coronavirus that has killed at least 1,100 and infected some 44,000, mostly in China.