MANILA (UPDATE)- President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday ordered a ban on travelers from the Chinese province of Hubei, the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak, his spokesman said.
The ban may be expanded to other areas with confirmed cases of the virus, and will last “until the threat is over,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
The President heeded the recommendation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on the travel ban after the Philippines on Thursday confirmed its first case, a female tourist from the Chinese city of Wuhan,
“Upon the recommendation of DOH Secretary Francisco Duque, the President has issued a travel ban to Chinese nationals coming from the Hubei province of China where the nCoV originated,” Panelo said.
Expanding the travel ban will depend on on the announcements of the Chinese government and the World Health Organization on the virus, Panelo said.
Hubei in central China includes the city of Wuhan, where the pathogen is believed to have originated from. The death toll topped 200 and the number of cases approached the 10,000 mark, prompting the WHO to declare a global emergency.
Duterte’s former longtime aide, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, earlier government was studying suspending travel to Hubei.
The Philippines on Monday suspended the issuance of tourist visas on arrival to Chinese nationals.