Sotto: Ban travelers from countries with coronavirus cases if outbreak worsens

By: Christia Marie Ramos - INQUIRER.net January 31,2020 - 03:01 PM

MANILA, Philippines — Should the novel coronavirus outbreak worsens, the Philippines should ban all travelers coming in from countries with confirmed cases of the infection, said Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

This after the Palace said President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a temporary ban on Chinese nationals from Hubei province and from other parts of China where the spread of the novel coronavirus has been reported.

“I concur (with the ban), in fact the travel ban should be for all…lahat ng (all) nationalities coming from that area in China,” Sotto told reporters in a message to reporters on Friday.

“If it gets worse, ban na all coming from countries with (2019-nCoV),” he added.

Sotto added that “we must leave it all” to the country’s health officials, noting that “they are in a better position to assess matters rather than us armchair critics.”

For Senator Francis Pangilinan, he said the ban should cover more areas.

“Considering that the virus is now confirmed in all 31 Chinese provinces  the ban should cover more areas and not just Hubei,” he said in a text message to INQUIRER.net

“We also urge the (Philippine government) to repatriate over 150 Filipinos in Wuhan. We must take care of our own people,” he added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it will start repatriating Filipinos in China, mostly from Wuhan, next week.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, lauded the President’s directive to issue the travel ban.

“It only shows that the President is open to rational advice from the Cabinet in matters that involve public safety despite contrary statements already issued,” he said in a message to INQUIRER.net

Lacson then urged the Department of Health (DOH) to “l be “more proactive and vigilant especially when it involves a novel deadly virus like what the country is trying to contend with now.”

On Thursday, the DOH confirmed the first case of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said a 38-year-old Chinese woman, who arrived in the Philippines through a flight from Hong Kong last week, tested positive for novel coronavirus, which first broke out in the capital city of Wuhan in Hubei province.

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TAGS: coronavirus, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Health, Senate President Vicente Sotto III

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