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Gov’t to ask China to submit Macau health protocols for travel ban review


By Genalyn Kabiling

The Philippine government intends to ask China to submit the health protocols in Macau as part of its planned review on travel restrictions in the area.

Malacañang Palace. (Photo by Richard V. Viñas / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Malacañang Palace. (Photo by Richard V. Viñas / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The request will be made by an inter-agency task force (IATF) after the government lifted the travel ban on Taiwan due to supposed “sufficient measures” to prevent potential virus carriers from entering or departing Taiwan.

A resolution on the matter was issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases following their meeting at the Palace Friday.

“The IATF is continuously monitoring several risk indicators and protocols from other jurisdictions such as Macau with a view to modifying the current travel restrictions if considerations of public health will warrant,” the task force said in a resolution.

Under the resolution, the task force chairman will “request the Chinese government to inform the Philippines of protocols being followed by Macau, if any that prevent potential carriers of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) from entering or departing such SAR (special administrative region) and enable other jurisdictions to determine the recent travel history of any traveler exiting from Macau.”

The government recently imposed a temporary travel ban on foreign travelers from China and its special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong as a precaution against the new coronavirus threat. The travel ban was implemented last Jan. 31. Filipinos have also been prohibited from visiting China and its territories as a safety precaution for the meantime.

The government expanded the travel ban to include Taiwan last Feb. 11 but lifted the restrictions Friday after being given “reliable assurance” on Taiwan’s measures to prevent the spread of the respiratory illness.

Meantime, the government task force has agreed to form a technical working group to study and formulate recommendations on the travel restrictions to “specific classes of travelers.” The new group must submit any recommendations to the task force for approval.

“Any resolution of the IATF on travel restrictions shall be subject of regular review,” the resolution added.

The resolution was signed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay, Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary Francisco Cruz, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, and Information and Communications Technology officer-in-charge Undersecretary Manuel Anthony Tan.

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