Taiwan included in Health Department’s expanded coronavirus travel ban

Travelers pass through a health screening lane in Ninoy Aquino International Airport <i>Photo: Jonathan Cellona / ABS-CBN News</i>
Travelers pass through a health screening lane in Ninoy Aquino International Airport Photo: Jonathan Cellona / ABS-CBN News

Taiwan has been included in a temporary and expanded coronavirus travel ban that had previously just included China and its special administrative regions, the Health Department clarified today.

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said in today’s press briefing that the travel ban on Taiwan was implemented last week because the self-governed republic, according to the World Health Organization, is officially under China.

“The task force’s resolution [bans travel to] China. As far as the health community is concerned, Taiwan is part of China,” Domingo said.

Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, has been governed independently of the mainland since the 1950s, and has long resisted efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to bring it back into the fold. Beijing, meanwhile, views the country as a breakaway province.

Domingo said that he was compelled to issue the clarification due to confusion over Taiwan’s status on the part of the Department of Health.

“There was initial confusion during the early days, but over the weekend, [there was] full implementation,” he said, adding that foreign nationals from Taiwan have been turned away since Feb. 7.

Read: Duterte bans travel from Hubei province after first coronavirus patient found in PH

Foreign nationals are barred from entering the Philippines from any part of China — including its semi-autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau, and now, Taiwan — while Filipinos are currently barred from traveling to any of those destinations.

Philippine citizens and permanent residents are allowed to return to the country from China, but must undergo a 14-day quarantine. The travel ban is temporary and subject to change based on the assessment of health officials.

Read: Health Department warns Filipinos not to attend concerts, other public events to avoid coronavirus infection


Meanwhile, the Philippines’ first confirmed case of coronavirus has reportedly recovered and was released from the hospital today.

In a separate briefing, Undersecretary Domingo said the 38-year-old Chinese woman tested for negative for the 2019-nCoV twice. A native of Wuhan, she was discharged from San Lazaro Hospital in Manila on Saturday. Domingo said it was unclear if the woman has flown back to China yet.

Her partner, a 44-year-old Chinese man, was the second coronavirus case in the country, and the first fatality outside of China. After delays over his cremation, the health department confirmed that he was buried on Saturday. The department refused to divulge where the victim was buried out of respect for the deceased’s privacy.

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