Philippines lifts travel ban to Taiwan amid COVID-19 concerns

The Philippine government has lifted the travel ban to Taiwan amid COVID-19 concerns.

COVID-19 is the name given by the World Health Organization to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that originated in China.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo confirmed through a statement on Friday that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) has decided to lift the travel ban imposed upon Taiwan, effective immediately.

“Accordingly, travel may now be made by any national to Taiwan from the Philippines and vice versa,” Panelo said.

According to the Palace official, the lifting of travel restrictions for Taiwan has been “agreed by the members of the IATF by reason of the strict measures they are undertaking, as well as the protocols they are implementing to address the COVID-19.”

On February 2, the Philippine government banned all travel to and from China and its two administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau. On February 4, the Department of Health (DOH) said that the travel ban included Taiwan.

As a result, Taipei protested the country’s “wrongful” inclusion and warned of possible countermeasures. It stressed that the Philippines was “misled” by the World Health Organization, which considers Taiwan as part of China.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque said the threat of lifting the visa-free privilege for Filipinos has nothing to do with the Philippines’ decision to lift the travel restrictions.

“It’s purely on public health and public safety,” he emphasized.

The Task Force will also evaluate other jurisdictions, including Macau, for the possible lifting of the imposed travel ban after their submission of protocols against COVID-19.

Malacañang further stressed that “any resolution relative to travel restrictions in connection with the COVID-19 shall be subjected to regular review by the IATF.”

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