300 Chinese stranded in PH due to coronavirus travel restrictions

Sofia Tomacruz
300 Chinese stranded in PH due to coronavirus travel restrictions
Bureau of Immigration Spokesperson Dana Sandoval says the Chinese embassy has pledged to send an aircraft to fetch Chinese stranded in the country

MANILA, Philippines – About 300 Chinese were left stranded at several terminals across the country, following the Philippine government’s sweeping travel restrictions imposed amid the global spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus.

Bureau of Immigration Spokesperson Dana Sandoval disclosed this during a press briefing at Malacañang on Monday, February 3, adding the number included Chinese who wished to return home to China after trips to the Philippines.

“Three hundred Chinese nationals are stranded…because most airlines cancelled their flights [to China],” Sandoval said.

Apart from the 300 Chinese, Sandoval said other foreigners were also stranded at several terminals, though most have been able to depart as of Monday.

In limbo. The Duterte government on Sunday, February 2, implemented an entry ban against non-Filipinos coming to the country from China, Hong Kong, and Macau. Government authorities have likewise barred Filipinos from leaving the country to travel to China and its special administrative regions.

The sweeping travel restrictions have prompted airlines to follow suit, with several flights to China, Hong Kong, and Macau cancelled in an effort to quell the spread of the coronavirus.

What will happen to Chinese nationals? Sandoval gave assurances affected Chinese who were stranded in the country will be able to return home as the Chinese embassy has pledged to send an aircraft to fetch their nationals stranded in the Philippines.

She likewise urged the public to refrain from unnecessary travel and to bear with government restrictions in the meantime.

The Philippines joined a growing list of countries that have put in place temporary but sweeping travel restrictions on travelers coming from China within the last two weeks. Such bans followed the health officials’ announcement that the coronavirus spread to the Philippines and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration the outbreak as a global emergency.

Despite this, the WHO warned that closing borders was probably ineffective in halting transmission and could accelerate the virus’s spread. Travel restrictions, they added, could also slow the arrival of assistance and support for the management of the virus.

As of Monday morning, February 3, the virus has killed 360 people and infected over 17,000 people worldwide. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.