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Gov’t to mull over travel ban on South Korea, others hit by COVID-19

/ 03:05 PM February 24, 2020

A worker wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus at a subway station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, February 21, 2020. (AP File Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-IED) will study if it will impose a travel ban to and from South Korea – where COVID-19 cases topped 760, and countries affected by the deadly virus.

Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire, Department of Health (DOH) assistant secretary for public health services, said IATF, chaired by DOH, has agreed to hold regular assessment of the travel restriction, which is currently in effect for mainland China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau.

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The COVID-19 outbreak started in China’s Wuhan City, Hubei province, where nearly 2,600 died as of Monday, February 24.

“Definitely, with recent updates sa mga sitwasyon sa iba’t-ibang bahagi ng mundo, pag-uusapan po natin ulit sa IATF ‘yung issue ng (of the situation in other countries, the IATF will again discuss the issue in) South Korea,” she said in a press briefing.

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Vergeire said the same move will also apply to Singapore where local transmission of the virus was recorded, as well as to other countries hit by COVID-19.

“It’s (assessment) going to apply for all countries aside from what we have right now from China, Hong Kong, and Macau because we have standard guidelines for that,” she said.

IATF will hold its regular meeting on Wednesday, February 26, to discuss developments on COVID-19, according to Vergeire. Globally, COVID-19 has infected more than 79,000 people as of Monday, February 24.

Among the factors IATF considers when imposing a travel ban against a country over COVID-19 infection are the volume of travelers, “burden of infection”, risk of exposure, and strict protocols being enforced in that country.

Initially, Taiwan was included in the travel ban – citing the One China Policy being adhered to by the World Health Organization. But this has been lifted after IATF acknowledged Taiwan’s strict measures and protocols to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

KGA

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