PH bars Filipino tourists from visiting S. Korea amid COVID-19 cases; bans travelers from North Gyeongsang
The Philippine government has barred Filipino tourists from visiting South Korea amid ncreasing cases of coronavirus disease in the East Asian country.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases has also approved a partial ban of those who would come from North Gyeongsang province of South Korea due to "high concentration" of COVID-19 cases in that particular area.
He said the ban on the entry of travelers coming from the North Gyeongsang province into Philippine territory would be effective immediately.
"With respect to the other parts of South Korea, the IATF shall conduct a risk assessment of the situation within 48 hours to analyze whether it is necessary to expand the travel ban. In the meantime, strict protocols with respect to travelers entering the country from these areas in South Korea will continue to be observed," he said.
With regard to Filipinos who would travel to South Korea, Panelo, who is also the chief presidential legal counsel, said the interagency task force has only authorized those permanent residents there, or those leaving for study or are overseas Filipino workers.
But he said, "they are to execute and sign a declaration signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved prior to their travel."
Covered by the travel ban are those Filipino tourists who want to go to Jeju Island, Panelo said.
Panelo said that the safety and security of the Filipinos in the country and abroad remain the government's primary concern.
"Our countrymen’s welfare is the foremost in the mind of the President (Rodrigo Duterte) and as well as concerned officials and they will be discussing this matter and make recommendations with respect to the management of the coronavirus," he said.
But he admitted the ban could affect the tourism industry in the country, considering Koreans are the top foreign visitors here.
There were over 1,200 COVID-19 cases in South Korea, with at least 12 dead. South Korea so far has the largest coronavirus outbreak outside mainland China. Celerina Monte/DMS