As a preventive measure against the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, the Philippines has barred its citizens from traveling to South Korea, especially since the virus is spreading rapidly in the country.
On Wednesday, 26th February 2020, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo declared that the travel ban is “effective immediately” and includes Filipino tourists who are planning to go to Jeju Island.
Filipino Travelers Barred from Heading to South Korea
“The safety and security of Filipinos here and outside the Philippines remain our primary concern,” stated Panelo, as cited by ABS-CBN News. “Our countrymen’s welfare is foremost in our minds as concerned officials discuss updates and recommendations on the management of the coronavirus.”
There are some exemptions, however. Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), students, and permanent residents are exempted from the ban — provided that they sign a written document confirming their knowledge about the risks of traveling to South Korea.
Meanwhile, Panelo said that travelers coming from the South Korean province of North Gyeongsang are not allowed to enter the Philippines, as decided by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
On the other hand, Filipinos and foreign travelers who are not from North Gyeongsang may enter the Philippines.
With regard to other parts of South Korea, a risk assessment study shall be conducted by the IATF within 48 hours to determine whether the travel ban should be expanded, Panelo added.
“In the meantime, strict protocols with respect to travelers entering the country from these areas in South Korea will continue to be observed,” the Presidential Spokesman said.
South Korea on “Highest” Alert Level
On Sunday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in raised the country’s alert level to “highest,” amid the rapid spread of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Last week, a cluster of COVID-19 infections emerged from a religious group in the city of Daegu at North Gyeongsang. In less than a week, the number of confirmed vases had risen to more than 700 cases, majority of which were connected to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.
As of this writing, the number of infections in South Korea has increased dramatically and surpassed the 1,000 mark… there are now 1,146 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, according to Channel News Asia.
As a result, the Korean government has extended the schools holidays by one week across the country. It also plans to enforce tighter monitoring measures on arrivals from China.
The sudden rise in COVID-19 cases has also prompted the country’s tech giant, Samsung Electronics, to suspend plant operations in Gumi, which is 200 kilometres from Seoul. This is because one of its employees was infected over the weekend.
Other major events have also been canceled, including K-pop concerts and sports events, like the World Team Table Tennis championships and the start of the K-league football season.
If you are going to South Korea anytime soon, it would be best to postpone or change your travel plans for now, since the country is on high alert because of COVID-19. Moreover, to help prevent the spread of the infection, please read these tips for avoiding the novel coronavirus.