MANILA - The local government of the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte announced Wednesday that it will temporarily suspend the entry of all tourists from China and other Asian countries to control the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus.
In a Facebook post, the public information office of Samal Island said the decision was reached in coordination with the Department of Tourism.
"As a proactive measure to protect our people from exposure to the much dreaded Corona Virus, in coordination with the Department of Tourism, the Local Government Unit of the Island Garden City of Samal is temporarily suspending entry of group tour travels of mainland Chinese and other Asian nationals to our city," it said.
The local government also asked tour operators and agencies to support the local government to ensure the safety of everyone in the island.
"While we are promoting our city for tourism but the safety of our people is foremost. We are requesting our partners especially the tour operators and agencies and all other stakeholders to support the local government in this endeavour to ensure the safety of everyone," it added.
The Philippines remains free of the novel coronavirus as of Wednesday, according to the Department of Health. The government has also stopped issuing tourist visas on arrival to Chinese nationals to help ensure the country remained free of the strain.
Aside from China, there are confirmed cases of the virus in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Nepal, and the United States.
Deaths due to the virus had risen to 132 with nearly 6,000 people infected as of Wednesday.
The novel coronavirus strain can cause a pneumonia-like acute respiratory infection, health experts earlier said.