Philippines considering travel bans to Japan, Italy, Iran
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippines is looking at banning travel to Japan, Italy, and Iran in light of the increasing cases of the novel coronavirus in the 3 countries, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Friday, February 28.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Nograles said that the country's task force is constantly assessing the situations in the 3 countries. "Ayaw ko pangunahan (I don't want to preempt anything), but obviously the task force is looking at these countries as well," said Nograles.
He mentioned the importance of checking the situation in Iran, due to the large volume of Filipinos situated there.
"Hindi natin puwedeng balewalain ang Iran because we still have Filipinos in Iran – more than a thousand na mga kababayan natin ang naninirahan po diyan sa Iran. So tinitingnan din po namin iyan," he said. (We cannot brush off Iran because we still have Filipinos in Iran – more than a thousand of our countrymen live there. So we're taking a look at it too.)
The New York Times reported that the number of infections in Iran and Italy doubled in just two days, approaching 900 combined. Seventeen people in Italy died as of Friday, while 26 in Iran died as of Thursday.
Japan lists 214 cases with 4 deaths nationwide. In Yokohama, 538 Filipinos were previously quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Some 445 have been repatriated, while others who were symptomatic or contracted the COVID-19 disease stayed behind.
On Thursday, February 27, the Philippine government banned travel of Filipino tourists to South Korea, and also restricted travelers coming from its North Gyeongsang province.
Travel ban criteria
In a February 28 press conference, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III enumerated the criteria for the inclusion of countries in travel bans. He said there are 4 factors to consider:
- Presence of local transmission in the country proposed to be covered by the ban
- Volume of travelers coming into the country
- Context and threat based on international health regulations
- Health expenditure per capita
Duque also said they look into a particular country's entry restrictions on people traveling from China. If that country has no full restrictions from travelers from China, then that puts the country at a higher risk.
The Inter-agency Task Force consider these in deciding if a travel ban would be partial or total. – Rappler.com