It’s more fun in the Philippines: Duterte invites Filipinos to visit local tourism sites amid Covid-19 fears

Robie de Guzman   •   February 14, 2020   •   281

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has called on Filipinos to visit local tourism sites amid fears of international travel and restrictions due to the threat of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In a taped message posted on social media, Duterte urged the public to help boost local tourism by visiting the country’s scenic spots and discovering other awe-inspiring hidden gem attractions.

“To my fellow Filipinos, I encourage you to travel with me around the Philippines. I assure you that everything is safe in our country, be it an issue of health, be it an issue of law and order and be it an issue of accessibility,” the President said.

“Come with me and be my travel companion. I’ll be traveling around the Philippines. Pasyal tayo dito sa atin. Unahin natin ‘yung atin. Mabuhay ang Pilipino. Mabuhay ang turismo ng Pilipinas,” he added.

The chief executive issued the call after the tourism sector reported at least P10 billion in revenue losses due to an entry ban on travelers to and from China, the country’s largest tourism market, after it was hit by coronavirus outbreak.

Duterte said local airline companies and hotel operators have agreed to offer discounted rates to counter the negative effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, and to promote the country’s tourism sector to local tourists.

“Maraming magagandang mapuntahan sa Pilipinas, wala kayong dapat alalahanin,” he said.

The Philippines has imposed an entry ban on foreigners who travelled from China, Hong Kong and Macau within 14 days in an effort to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus strain. It later expanded the ban’s coverage to include Taiwan.

Filipino worker in Hong Kong tests negative of novel coronavirus

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A Filipino worker in Hong Kong who was placed under observation for contracting novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is expected to be released within the week after testing negative of the virus, the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong said Tuesday.

In a Facebook post, the consulate said the infection of the Filipino migrant worker is the first reported case involving a household worker in Hong Kong.

Citing a report from the Hong Kong Health Department, the Consulate two more Filipinos were released Tuesday after completing their 14-day mandatory quarantine.

There were eight Filipinos placed on quarantine for possible infection of COVID-19. Seven have so far been released.

The consulate said the remaining Filipino undergoing quarantine is healthy and asymptomatic, and will possibly be released on Friday, February 28.

As of February 24, Hong Kong has 81 confirmed coronavirus cases with two fatalities as reported by China’s National Health Commission.

The commission also said that the death toll in mainland China has reached 2,663 with confirmed infections of 77,658.

Plane carrying first batch of Filipinos from virus-hit Japan cruise ship on way back to PH – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The first batch of Filipinos repatriated from the novel coronavirus-hit M/V Diamond Princess cruise ship has taken off Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Tuesday.

In a Twitter post, the DFA said the first Philippine Airlines chartered flight is expected to arrive in Clark International Airport in Pampanga before 9 p.m.

In a separate tweet, DFA Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said 309 Filipinos from the cruise ship have boarded the first flight.

Around 143 more Filipinos, including two DFA officers and five medics from the Department of Health (DOH), have boarded the second flight.

Dulay said Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Forces assisted in the boarding procedures of Filipinos.

The DFA said the second plane is expected to arrive home sometime before midnight.

Upon arrival in the Philippines, the Filipino repatriates will be transported to a facility in the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac to undergo a 14-day quarantine period.

A total of 538 Filipinos – 531 crew members and seven passengers – were aboard the cruise ship. Eighty of them so far have been found to be infected with the virus.

The cruise ship, moored off the Japanese coast in Yohohama near Tokyo, was placed on a quarantine after one of its passengers tested positive of the novel coronavirus disease.

The vessel, which carried 3,700 passengers and crew, reported over 690 confirmed cases of virus infection with three deaths.

PH sends two chartered planes to bring home Filipinos from virus-hit Japan cruise ship

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Two planes of flag-carrier Philippine Airlines chartered by the government are on its way to Japan to pick up over 400 Filipinos who disembarked from the coronavirus-hit M/V Diamond Princess.

In a Twitter post, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said the first of two flights carrying the department’s rapid response team has left the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) around 11 a.m. Tuesday and is expected to land at Haneda Airport at 4:27 p.m.

In a separate tweet, the DFA said the second chartered flight for the repatriation is also ready to take off. Both flights are expected to carry back home more than 400 Filipinos from the virus-hit cruise ship.

Officials from the DFA and the Department of Health (DOH) are now at the Yokohama port for the disembarkation of the Filipino crew aboard the cruise ship, based on photos posted on DFA’s Twitter account.

A total of 538 Filipinos – 531 crew members and seven passengers – were aboard the cruise ship. Eighty of them so far have been found to be infected with the virus.

The cruise ship, moored off the Japanese coast in Yokohama near Tokyo, was placed on quarantine after one of its passengers tested positive of the novel coronavirus disease.

The vessel, which carried 3,700 passengers and crew, reported over 690 confirmed cases of virus infection with three deaths.

The DFA said the chartered flights are expected to return to Manila Tuesday night.

The repatriated Filipinos will then be brought to a facility at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

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