Philippines mulls Singapore travel ban vs coronavirus


Posted at Feb 14 2020 10:52 AM | Updated as of Feb 14 2020 11:06 AM

A man and a child wear protective masks, looking at empty shelves of canned food and instant noodles as people stock up on food supplies, after Singapore raised coronavirus outbreak alert level to orange, at a supermarket in Singapore Feb. 8, 2020. Edgar Su, Reuters

MANILA — The Philippines is assessing the risks of a possible travel ban on Singapore to curb the spread of a novel coronavirus outbreak from China, Manila's health chief said Friday. 

Manila earlier banned inbound flights from China, its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Taiwan, which Beijing claims. 

"'Yong risk assessment ipi-present ko mamaya sa inter-agency task force kung napapanahon ba na i-exclude natin ang Taiwan o Hong Kong; o kung dapat ba nating i-include ang Singapore," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told DZMM. 

(I will present later the risk assessment on whether it is time to exclude Taiwan or Hong Kong from the ban, or include Singapore.) 

"Gusto ko (I want) very independent, very objective parameters or criteria," he added. 

Singapore, which confirmed at least 58 cases of the novel coronavirus, had raised its health alert level to the same as during the 2002-2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak. 

The island hosts some 200,000 Filipinos, according to the Philippine embassy there. 

Taiwan, which has 18 cases of the disease, said it was considering countermeasures if the Philippines did not lift the travel ban it imposed this week.