Government officials in the Philippines announced on Wednesday, February 26, that Filipino tourists will be restricted from traveling to South Korea due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Filipinos who are permanent residents of South Korea, returning for study, or overseas workers will be exempted from the travel ban.
Additionally, travelers coming from North Gyeongsang province (South Korea) will not be allowed to enter the Philippines. Filipino nationals and their foreign spouses or children, permanent residents, and travelers with diplomatic visas arriving from North Gyeongsang province will be allowed entry but will undergo screening and quarantine protocols.
To date, there have been three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines, including one fatality.
Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (China). 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 30 countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble 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.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran, who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.