Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay announced on Tuesday, February 18, that employees in Macao and Hong Kong will be exempted from the active travel ban imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Filipino workers will nonetheless have to "make a written declaration that they know the risks of going back."
On Friday, February 14, the Filipino government lifted a restriction that denied entry to individuals who had previously traveled to Taiwan 14 days prior to traveling to the Philippines.
Following this announcement, Philippines AirAsia stated that starting Thursday, February 20, some flights from Manila to Taipei (Taiwan) and Kaohsiung (Taiwan) will partially resumed while other flights are expected to gradually resume by February 24, 25, and March 1, 30, to various locations. The company advises passengers to monitor for any communication regarding their reservations.
To date, there are three confirmed cases in the Philippines.
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 29 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 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.