Gov’t to decide on travel bans to Japan, Italy, Iran Tuesday

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    THE government is set to decide tomorrow on whether it would impose travel bans to Japan, Italy, and Iran following the spike of cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in those countries, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said yesterday.

    Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATFEID) has been monitoring the situation in the three countries, along with the other nations where there are reported COVID-19 cases, and assessing whether the issuance of issue travels bans or restrictions is necessary.

    He said health and travel risks are among factors being considered.

    Nograles said as of yesterday, there was a spike of COVID-19 cases in Italy with 1,128 and Iran with 593 while there were 235 cases reported in Japan.

    He said the issue of the COVID-19 may also be taken up during the Cabinet meeting in Malacañang today.

    Nograles said that in the absence of a travel ban to countries with COVID-19 cases, Filipinos are advised to be more discerning and to consider, among others, if their travel is necessary.

    In South Korea, Nograles said, while there are 3,150 COViD-19 cases, about 90 percent of the cases are concentrated in Daegu City, Cheongdo County and North Gyeongsang province.

    A partial travel ban to these South Korean areas was implemented by the Philippines last week.

    On a repatriation of Filipinos from South Korea, Nograles reiterated the government is ready to assist Filipinos who want to return to the country wherever they are.

    The Department of Health said 26 South Korean tourists who arrived in Cebu last week remain under close monitoring.

    “They are under strict monitoring. They are being quarantined in a hotel,” said Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

    She said the 26 will not be undergoing laboratory tests yet as they are just considered persons under monitoring (PUMs).

    To recall, the 26 tourists from Daegu arrived in the country a day before the Philippines announced the partial travel ban on South Korea.

    Meanwhile, 13 Filipinos from the M/V Diamond Princess cruise ship, who are now quarantined at the New Clark City in Tarlac, have shown symptoms of COVID-19 but 10 later tested negative for the virus, according Vergeire.

    The three others are awaiting results of laboratory tests.

    “When one is tested negative and they don’t have symptoms anymore, they can already be discharged but you will be strictly monitored,” said Vergeire.

    Last Tuesday, 445 Filipinos from the M/V Diamond Princess cruise ship, including 440 crew members and five passengers, were placed under quarantine. Add to those undergoing the 14-day quarantine period are the 13 repatriation team members from health and foreign affairs departments, bringing the total of those temporarily staying in Clark to 458.

    As for Filipinos overseas with COVID-19, Vergeire said the number has already reached 86, with 80 of them from the M/V Diamond Princess.

    “A total of 16 have already been discharged from the hospitals in Japan. So, we are left with 64 that are still admitted in different hospitals in Tokyo,” said Vergeire.

    The remaining six, she said, are based in United Arab Emirates (2), Hong Kong (2), and Singapore (2).

    Vergeire said the latest case is that of a 41-year-old female overseas Filipino worker in Singapore.

    She said the Filipina supposedly got the virus from her 61-year-old Singaporean employer.
    “They have no history of travel to any of the places that are affected right now for COVID-19,” she said.

    Vergeire said the Filipina is in stable condition at a hospital in Singapore. – With Gerard Naval