Pangilinan bats for preemptive ban on visitors from Wuhan amid NCoV scare

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MANILA – Amid the scare of deadly novel coronavirus (NCoV), opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan on Tuesday proposed for the government to impose a preemptive ban on visitors coming from Wuhan, China and from other affected provinces of Mainland China.

Pangilinan stressed that the progressive spread of the coronavirus and the increasing number of deaths due to it should prompt Philippine health and immigration authorities to impose the preemptive ban.

“While the Philippine health authorities have not confirmed a case of the rapidly-mutating deadly disease, it is best for them to be more proactive especially since the country may not be able to contain a full-blown epidemic given the continuing alert levels for Taal and since a total 1,626,309 tourists from mainland China visited the country from January to November 2019,” said Pangilinan.

That is over 4,800 Chinese tourists every day, said Pangilinan.

Meanwhile, around 70 to 80 percent of passengers headed to or coming from China are not showing up at airports for their flights, the Airline Operators Council said.

Council Chairman Allan Nepomuceno said this trend in international flights may also affect domestic flights and the country’s tourism industry at large.

“Several airlines already confirmed to us there are about 70 to 80 percent of the passengers are not showing up,” he said.

“It will not just impact the international flights but also the domestic flights. Basically tourism is our main product. If they come here on international flight, pati ‘yung mga feeder natin na domestic flight will be affected.”

The low number of passengers showing up for their flights to and from China comes on the heels of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, although the Department of Health (DOH) has assured that there is no confirmed case in the country yet.

The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said they will consult the DOH regarding the implementation of travel restrictions.

“Public health and safety is the primordial concern of policy. We are waiting for things to unfold and we will act accordingly,” CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said.

‘Pag force majeure, hindi kasalanan ng airline, hindi rin lalong kasalanan ng pasahero. So ang titingnan natin ang patas na ano do’n, ‘yun ay refund,” he added. (STACY ANG/IA/CPH)

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