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Philippines won't impose travel ban on South Korea for now

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government will not yet impose a travel ban on South Korea, which has so far recorded the highest number of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cases outside of mainland China.

On Monday, February 24, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told Malacañang reporters that the inter-agency task force handling the 2019-nCoV outbreak has yet to talk about possibly restricting travel to and from South Korea.

He said the Philippine government would be relying on existing protocols and recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) before imposing another travel ban.

"Sa ngayon wala pang desisyon 'no? Pag-uusapan ito sa task force," Nograles said. (Right now there's still no decision on this, okay? The task force will still talk about it.)

There has been a surge of 2019-nCoV infections in South Korea in the past days, with the country recording 763 confirmed cases as of 1:50 pm on Monday. Of this number, 7 people have died while 18 have recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. (READ: South Korea on frontline as coronavirus spreads)

Nograles assured the public that none of those who tested positive in South Korea is a Filipino.

"So far, Filipinos there are safe, and I think the South Korean government is also doing everything that they can to contain the epidemic and control the situation," said the Cabinet secretary in a mix of English and Filipino.

For now, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs has advised Filipinos to "delay non-essential travel" to South Korea.

The Philippines is currently imposing a partial travel ban on China and its administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. But the government has already allowed some 25,000 Filipinos to return to their jobs or homes in Hong Kong and Macau after being stranded in the Philippines due to the travel ban. – Rappler.com 

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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