Pinoys stranded by Taiwan travel ban barred from extending visa-free stay: MECO


Posted at Feb 14 2020 11:16 AM | Updated as of Feb 14 2020 11:50 PM

Passengers arriving from Taiwan wear masks at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay, Philippines, Jan. 23, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

MANILA — Filipino tourists cannot extend their visa-free stay in Taiwan despite being stranded there after the Philippines barred the entry of foreigners coming from the island to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, a Manila office said. 

Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and AirAsia said they were canceling flights to and from Taiwan after Manila announced its travel ban. 

"Filipino travelers stranded in Taiwan are not allowed to extend their 14-day visa free stay," the Manila Economic and Cultural Office said. 

They should "get the earliest flight back to the Philippines, either through their airline or by endorsement or booking with another airline," said MECO.

Those who will encounter difficulties in booking flights should contact MECO, it said. 

Holders of unused visas issued from Nov. 10 to Feb. 10 may also request for refund from MECO, it added. 

A Philippine inter-agency task force will assess the risk of lifting the Taiwan travel ban on Friday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said. 

Taiwan, which has 18 cases of the novel coronavirus, said it was considering countermeasures if the Philippines did not lift the restriction. 

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.