PH lifts travel ban on Taiwan

Image by skeeze from Pixabay
Image by skeeze from Pixabay

The Philippines has today (Feb 14) lifted travel restrictions on Taiwan after the same was implemented four days ago amid the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-2019).

In a resolution on Feb 14, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) said it “received communications and information pertaining to strict protocols that Taiwan has established, which enable the Philippines to credibly determine whether any traveler has come from mainland China and its Special Administrative Regions (SARs).”

It added that “upon independently verifying the subject protocols, the IATF is convinced that the protocols provide reliable assurance that sufficient measures are in place to effectively prevent potential carriers of the disease from entering or departing Taiwan.”

The government on February 11 extended its travel ban on China and its SARs—Macau and Hong Kong—to Taiwan, citing the One-China policy, which asserts the independently-governed state as part of China’s territory. Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, on February 13, however, said the ban had “nothing to do” with the One China policy and was due to public safety.

The Taiwan government—which insists it is an independent state—had earlier said it is considering retaliatory measures against the Philippines such as cancellation of visa-free entry for Filipinos as a result of the travel ban.

In a related development, the IATF will request protocols being implemented by Macau that would prevent potential COVID-2019 carriers from entering or departing its territory.

The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19—which was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei, China—as a public health emergency of international concern. The virus as of February 14 has already claimed more than 1,000 deaths and infected more than 60,000 in many countries.