On Monday (February 10), the Department of Health (DOH) clarified that Taiwan is included in the Philippines’ expanded travel ban due to the growing concern regarding the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus, which has already claimed the life of a Chinese national in the Philippines.
Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Eric Domingo clarified the matter amid “confusion” among members of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on whether or not Taiwan is part of the temporary travel ban issued by the Philippines on February 2.
Taiwan Included in Temporary Travel Ban due to Coronavirus Spread
Accordingly, Undersecretary Domingo explained that since President Rodrigo Duterte and IATF’s resolution includes China, and since the World Health Organization (WHO) follows the One-China policy, Taiwan is included in the China travel ban, as shared in a report by The Inquirer.
The temporary travel ban covers visitors coming from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau, and likewise bars Filipinos from traveling to these countries. The Philippines imposed these travel controls in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus in observance of the suggestion by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In a press conference on Monday, Domingo shared: “If you look at the WHO map and the number of cases that they have, Taiwan is included in China.”
Domingo pointed out: “So, since we have a temporary travel restriction and ban on China, then Taiwan is included.”
The explanation comes after confusion erupted following the temporary travel ban placed on China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
He also added that the IATF will meet again on Wednesday, February 12, and among the issues to be discussed are the nuances of the travel ban. He noted that Taiwan has expressed its intention to appeal its inclusion in the travel restriction.
Regarding the situation, Domingo reiterated that same with the protocol on passengers coming from China, Hong Kong, and Macau, only Filipinos and holders of permanent Philippine resident visas coming from Taiwan will be allowed to enter the Philippines subject to a mandatory quarantine.
Domingo was also quick to point out that the travel ban may still change since it is temporary and that it is continuously being reassessed during IATF meetings.
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs commented that despite the travel restrictions set on Hong Kong and Macau, the work of Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will not be affected.
Commenting on this update, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said OFWs employed in Hong Kong and Macau who are in the Philippines for a holiday were granted extended vacations due to the ban on travel to China and its special administrative regions.
In a press briefing in Malacañang, the labor secretary shared: “There is no basis yet that the employment of these returning OFWs have been affected because we got verified information from our labor attaché in Hong Kong that the employers of our overseas workers there granted an extension of vacation of our OFWs.”
Also, Bello noted that DOLE has already extended financial assistance worth PHP 10,000 to OFWs affected by the travel ban.
He also pointed out that as of Friday (February), DOLE has already extended PHP 35 million pesos to 3,500 OFWs. However, this number is growing every day, as well.