February 29, 2020 | 9:40 a.m.
MANILA, Philippines — Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Friday the travel restriction to Japan was still not being addressed by the government.
“We didn’t discuss at all [regarding] Japan,” she said in a text message to PhilStar.comwhile referring to the ban on travel to Japan.
Health Secretary Francis Duque said last Thursday that Japan could be included in the country’s travel ban amid the rising number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the East Asian country. Is.
Duque, however, said the potential travel restriction still hinged on it meeting the Interagency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases criteria for each country to be included in a temporary travel ban.
“Kung pasok, possible… Magde-decision ang task force”, Duque was quoted in an interview with dzMM.
(If it suits [the critera]it’s possible… The working group will decide.)
In the radio report, Duque said that among the considerations are the “local COVID-19 transmission situation in the country” or whether it has a “high volume of travellers.”
At least 210 people have been infected with COVID-19 in Japan and five deaths are linked to it, according to a report by Agence France-Presse.
Around 700 people have been infected with the virus among the 3,700 passengers and crew on a cruise ship that was quarantined off Japan after one of its former passengers tested positive.
On Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged schools across the country to close for about a month as part of precautionary measures. He said nurseries and after-school clubs are exempt from this order.
Theme parks such as Disneyland and Disneysea in Tokyo and Universal Studios Japan which attract around 30 million visitors a year, too announced that they would close amid COVID-19 fears.
The closure would run from Saturday to March 15 “to limit the spread of the virus”.
The highly anticipated Tokyo 2020 Olympics are also under threat of closure due to the virus outbreak. However, the International Olympic Committee is “fully committed” to hosting the international sporting event.
South Korea travel ban extended
Meanwhile, earlier this week, Malacañang announced that the government would impose a temporary travel ban on South Korea’s North Gyeongsang province.
Filipinos are also prohibited from traveling to South Korea.
Asked about the potential extension of the travel ban to all of South Korea, Puyat just replied: “I am confident [with] the protocols that the South Korean government is undertaking.
South Koreans are the country’s top tourists with nearly 2 million arrivals recorded in 2019. They have held the top spot since 2010.
Previously, the government also imposed a temporary travel ban on China, Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan due to rising coronavirus cases.
Last month, the government lifted the travel ban on Taiwan, but the same restriction applies to mainland China and its special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.
China is the country’s second largest tourism source market with 1.74 million visitors, an increase of 38.58% in 2019.
Howard Lance Uyking, DOT Assistant Secretary for Branding and Marketing Communications, said the 2020 tourist arrivals target was already impacted by the recent temporary travel ban, but they plan to ease the setback thanks to domestic tourism.
The government is targeting 9.2 million foreign visitors for 2020.