PH suspends flights to and from Wuhan, China, amid virus outbreak

MANILA, Philippines – The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) suspended all airline operations between Wuhan, China, and any destination in the Philippines for an indefinite period as a precaution against the entry of the novel coronavirus in the country.

The suspension exempts Royal Air Charter Services flights on January 24 and 27, and Pan Pacific Air flights on January 23 and 25, which will ferry passengers back to Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic.

"Provided, that no passengers shall be carried from its return flight from Wuhan to the Philippines and, provided further, that both airline shall exercise extraordinary vigilance in ensuring the health and safety of its passengers and crews," CAB said in a statement on Friday, January 24.

CAB also ordered all airlines to monitor events in other cities that may be susceptible to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Coronaviruses, which can cause conditions ranging from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), spread through aerial droplets, particularly by sneezing and coughing. (READ: Duque: Still many blindspots in 'novel coronavirus')

Precautionary measures

Meanwhile, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Ed Monreal ordered terminal managers to make hand sanitizers are available in the 4 Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals at all times.

The MIAA also advised passengers to observe cough etiquette and proper hygiene, and drink lots of fluids.

Monreal also ordered the provision of an examination booth for the Bureau of Quarantine, which would be accessible to an exit to the tarmac in the event that a hospital transfer may be needed.

Writing desks will also be set up so passengers from China can fill out their Health Declaration Card. The MIAA is also eyeing the distribution of cards during flights to expedite the process.

Monreal also directed the strict sanitation of quarantine areas. –