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24 Jan 2020 | 05:28 AM UTC

Philippines: Government suspends flights to and from Wuhan and sends 500 Chinese tourists home January 24

Ongoing coronavirus outbreak prompts government to suspend flights to and from Wuhan and return almost 500 recently-arrived Wuhan tourists to China January 24



On Friday, January 24, Philippine officials confirmed that an estimated 500 Chinese tourists recently arrived from Wuhan will be repatriated amid the ongoing Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. The government also suspended flights to and from Wuhan on Wednesday, January 23, to inhibit the spread of the virus. At the time of the government inquiry, none of the passengers displayed symptoms of the disease, but were being repatriated as a precaution.

Pan Pacific Airlines and Royal Air Philippines flights from Kalibo International Airport (KLO) have therefore been affected.

As of Thursday, no 2019-nCoV cases have been confirmed in the Philippines, though the government is monitoring several suspected cases.

Further spread of the virus is possible over the near term, particularly during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday. Additional security presence, health screenings, and travel disruptions to and from China are possible.


The 2019-nCoV has killed 26 people and infected more than 875 across China as of January 24. Most cases have been recorded in the city of Wuhan. According to media reports, security forces have deployed to transportation hubs to prevent individuals from attempting to leave the city. Authorities have also ordered residents to wear masks in public places. All celebrations and public gatherings related to the Lunar New Year have been canceled as a precaution. Local authorities have urged residents to not leave the city and warned visitors to not travel to Wuhan.

Cases have been reported in 25 provinces in China, including urban centers such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Macau, and Hong Kong. Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have also been confirmed. Stricter measures are expected to be implemented in hospitals to protect staff from the outbreak.

As of January 24, cases of the virus have been confirmed in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, and the US, and suspected cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Australia. Fever screening measures are being implemented at airports throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America, Australia, the Middle East, and the US.

On Wednesday, January 22, the CDC issued a Level 2 health alert warning individuals who are in or who recently returned from Wuhan to "practice enhanced precautions." In particular, CDC officials warned that the virus poses an increased threat to older adults with underlying health conditions.

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 in China, particularly those in Hubei province, are advised to monitor the situation and anticipate additional security checks at airports. 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, wear a face mask
  • Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments
  • Travelers returning from China and developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spreading the disease

Individuals traveling via KLO are advised to monitor the situation and contact their airline for more information.