Legarda Calls for Select and Temporary Travel Ban to Antique Amid Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

January 29, 2020

Deputy Speaker and Antique Congresswoman Loren Legarda today expressed alarm over the new strain of Coronavirus that has caused an outbreak in Wuhan City, Hubei, China and has rapidly spread to other countries, with suspected cases already being monitored in the Philippines.

“Despite the assurance from the Department of Health (DOH) that the Philippines has no confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), we cannot let our guard down especially after increasing confirmed cases have been reported in other areas such as Hongkong and Taiwan, and countries like Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and even in the United States and France. We cannot afford to be complacent notwithstanding the assurances issued by experts,” Legarda said.

Legarda therefore urged authorities in her home province of Antique to impose travel restrictions, banning the entry of visitors originating from China and other countries with suspected and confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus.

“This rise in Novel Coronavirus cases is a cause for alarm, especially because our country is one of the most visited by tourists from all over the world. The health and safety of my kasimanwa are always my top priority. Hence, I am urging local authorities to impose a temporary ban on tourists coming from China and identified countries with confirmed and suspected cases into the province of Antique.  Health security checks must be done for people coming into the province,” Legarda said.

China has already announced ban on outbound travel to contain the spread of the virus that originated in Wuhan. Asian countries like Taiwan and Malaysia have also tightened inbound and outbound travels in China as a precautionary measure.  In line with this, Legarda also welcomed the Civil Aeronautics Board’s order for airlines to suspend flights coming to and from Wuhan, China.

“This is not an overreaction, but an aggressive effort to assure Antiqueños that appropriate precautionary measures are in place. We need to exercise vigilance in preparing and providing for all possible contingencies,” Legarda concluded.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the new strain of coronavirus was first monitored on December 31, 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. On January 7, 2020, the new virus was identified as a coronavirus which, according to WHO, is a family of viruses that cause common cold, and more serious diseases such as SARS and MERS. This can be transmitted through person to person close contact with infected patients.[1]

As of January 27, 2020, WHO reported 2,978 confirmed cases globally with 2,741 from China.[2]  In the Philippines, the DOH said that 11 patients in Metro Manila, Palawan, Aklan, Leyte, Cebu, and Camiguin are being monitored for having symptoms related to the Novel Coronavirus and have travel history in Wuhan.***