A government official announced a temporary entry ban on all individuals traveling from mainland China and its special administrative regions, including Hong Kong and Macau, following the first novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) death outside of China. The individual was the second confirmed case of 2019-nCov in the Philippines after traveling to the country from Wuhan (Hubei province, China) where the virus originated, via Hong Kong on Tuesday, January 21. It is unclear how long the new measure will remain in place.
Philippine Airlines announced on Friday, January 31, that it will reduce its flight operations to mainland China by 50 percent from Saturday, February 1. The airline subsequently canceled flights to Hong Kong. Cebu Pacific confirmed on Saturday that it will cancel all flights to mainland China from Sunday, February 2, through Sunday, March 29. Meanwhile, the airline has also reduced flights to Hong Kong and Macau as of February 1.
Further spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than 20 countries and territories worldwide. Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed in Germany, Japan, the US, and Vietnam. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak is a "public health emergency of international concern."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Individuals traveling to the Philippines are advised to confirm visa requirements, keep abreast of the situation, and to contact their nearest embassy for further details.
Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:
- Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
- Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
- Frequently wash hands and wear a face mask
- Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments
- Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spread of the disease.