The confirmed case of the deadly novel coronavirus 2019 (2019- nCoV) should prompt the government to suspend all visa issuances to visitors from Wuhan and other areas in China where the disease has spread, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Thursday.
“Unahin ang kapakanan at kaligtasan ng mamamayang Pilipino. Magsagawa na ng massive information drive kung paano ito maiiwasan at paano magpapagaling ang nahawahan. Mag setup ng mga hotline at emergency unit na magsasagawa ng mga quarantine at iba pang mga aksyon para maiwasan ang pagkalat ng sakit,” he said.
Soon after news broke about the possible pandemic from the disease early this week, Pangilinan has repeatedly called on the government to impose a travel ban to visitors from where the disease has started and already spread.
He pointed out the unequal treatment for Filipino and Chinese travelers, noting that the Department of Health said it would quarantine Filipinos returning from China.
As of 28 January 2020, even Chinese authorities have suspended air and rail travel in the area around Wuhan and have since expanded the travel ban to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million people.
And aside from China, Malaysia has suspended the issuance of visas for Chinese citizens from Wuhan and the areas around Hubei province to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV).
The US State Department, for its part, has issued a travel advisory to “reconsider travel to China due to novel coronavirus,” while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued warnings Level 3 (avoid all nonessential travel to China) and Level 4 (do not travel to Hubei province, China).
“Kailangan nating pangalagaan ang mga kapwa Pilipino. Hindi biro ang sakit na ito. At hindi rin biro ang magkasakit sa Pilipinas,” Pangilinan said.