PH allows Filipinos to travel to South Korea except to virus-hit north Gyeongsang province

Robie de Guzman   •   March 3, 2020   •   386

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino travelers will now be allowed to go to South Korea, except to north Gyeongsang province which was hit by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Malacañang announced Tuesday, March 3, the partial easing of travel restrictions to the East Asian nation.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) has approved the partial lifting of the travel ban.

“The IATF has approved to allow Filipinos to travel to South Korea except to the whole of North Gyeongsang Province, including Daegu City and Cheongdo County, where the virus outbreak is concentrated,” Panelo said.

He added that Filipinos intending to visit other parts of South Korea should “execute and sign a declaration, signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved in their trip.”

“A health advisory pamphlet shall likewise be handed out to them upon their departure,” he further stated.

The country’s ban on the entry of foreigners coming from north Gyeongsang Province, however, remains effective as a precaution against the novel coronavirus.

“The ban on the entry of foreign nationals travelling from North Gyeongsang Province, including Daegu City and Cheongdo County, into Philippine territory remains effective,” Panelo said.

The government earlier banned Filipinos from travelling to South Korea as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus. Exempted from the ban are Filipinos who are students, migrant workersand permanent residents there, provided they sign a written declaration stating their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved in travelling to the East Asian nation.

The Palace official also revealed the IATF’s decision not to issue any new travel restrictions in other countries despite the growing number of coronavirus infections in some parts of the world.

The IATF also assured that it will regularly review travel restrictions and protocols imposed by the government.

“Guided by the Health Security Risk Assessment Matrix, which evaluates the hazard, exposure and context relative to the risks involved, the IATF has also agreed that there are to be no new imposition of travel restrictions or lifting of the same as regards other countries or jurisdictions,” he said.

“The IATF assures that the review concerning travel restrictions and protocols to and from the Philippines shall be regularly conducted by it,” he added.

As of March 3, South Korea has recorded 4,812 cases with 28 deaths. Globally, coronavirus has killed 3,110 people from 73 countries while confirmed infections climbed to 90,893 cases, according to the coronavirus data dashboard of the World Health Organization.

Aside from South Korea, the Philippines also imposed a travel ban on China and its territories, Hong Kong and Macau due to coronavirus.

Panelo said the Department of Foreign Affairs is now working on bringing home more than 100 Filipinos from Macau.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs is now preparing for the repatriation of 148 Filipinos from Macau via chartered flight, while the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration is arranging to repatriate 48 of its active members therefrom via one (1) commercial flight,” he said.

The deadly strain of coronavirus originated from Chinese City of Wuhan in December 2019. It has since spread to other countries, causing death and sickness to thousands of people worldwide.

Metro Manila to likely transition to GCQ after May 31 —Palace

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

Metro Manila has a possibility to transition to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) from Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) after May 31, according to the Malacañang.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there is a chance that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions might ease in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) held a meeting on Wednesday (May 27) to determine if the MECQ should continue after May 31.

“Chances are we will, in fact, be transitioning to GCQ in Metro Manila, according to the chief implementer and the DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government] Secretary,” Roque said in a statement.

The Metro Manila Council (MMC) is also recommending to the IATF to put the National Capital Region under GCQ.

Once Metro Manila transitioned to GCQ, Roque said public transportation will resume operations but will have limited capacity.

He also appealed to the private and public sectors to finalize their work scheme where 50% will resume in worksites and 50% will work from home.

“We are appealing to both private and public sectors to ensure at least 50-50 workforce,” he said. –AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Mandaluyong City beefs up rapid testing after COVID-19 infects 277 tricycle drivers

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Mandaluyong City government cannot decide yet on whether or not to allow tricycle drivers to operate come June 1.

This, after 277 of the 3,115 tricycle drivers who underwent rapid testing were confirmed positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Mandaluyong City Health Office is continuously conducting rapid tests among 7,000 tricycle drivers in the city to ensure their safety and the safety of their passengers.

Those who were infected are now under isolation in the city’s quarantine facility while waiting for the confirmatory tests using the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

“Nagko contact tracing pa ho kami kasi scattered po ito eh. Hindi po ito kasi by area. So mina-map out pa po namin kung saan sila marami (We are doing contact tracing because these are scattered. It is not just in one area. So we are mapping out where the most number of cases are),” said Dr. Alexander Sta, Maria of the city health office.

The LGU, meanwhile, clarified that the increase in the number of confirmed cases in the city is a result of the mass testing which allowed for the immediate tracking of COVID-19 probable patients and their prompt isolation to curb further spread.

“This is coordinated kasi meron po tayong in-charge sa buong TODA. Then before po ito ni-launch, na-meeting po ang lahat ng presidente ng kanilang mga TODA so binigyan po sila ng schedule (This is a coordinated effort. There is someone in charge of the whole TODA. Before this was launched, we held a meeting with their respective presidents and all of them were given a schedule),” Sta. Maria added.

The city government will test jeepney drivers next once the tests among tricycle drivers is completed. MNP (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

House panel approves P1.5-T fund to create jobs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

The House Defeat COVID-19 Committee has approved a bill seeking to provide a P1.5-trillion fund to create sustainable jobs amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

House Bill 6709 or the proposed “COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020″ is set to fund infrastructure projects in rural areas to help curb unemployment amid the pandemic.

The CURES Act of 2020 shall also be undertaken with the “Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program” and the immediate funding of CURES projects shall target the construction of health centers, school buildings, vocational learning centers, as well as improving fish ports and trading centers at barangay levels.

The House Bill is expected to be sponsored on Thursday (May 28) for its 2nd reading approval in the plenary on Thursday afternoon. It will have to go through a 3rd and final reading before it can hurdle the House.

Meanwhile, representatives of other government agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) also endorsed the approval of the proposed CURES Act of 2020. –AAC

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