By Raymund Antonio
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Sunday there is a “high possibility” the travel ban imposed on Macau in response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be lifted after Taiwan.
Speaking to radio DZMM, Bello said it was just a “matter of considering the [health] protocols to be observed” by China’s special administrative region for the ban to be lifted.
“Iyong task force hinihintay na lang ‘yung pagtupad sa mga protocols na kinakailangan para ma-recommend nila ‘yung lifting ng travel ban,” the labor official said.
(The task force is just waiting for the protocols that needed to be implemented so it will recommend the lifting of the travel ban.)
Bello noted the “high possibility” of lifting the ban on Macau than Hong Kong since it has a lesser number of confirmed cases of the COVID-19.
Philippine officials are monitoring efforts to contain the infectious disease in Macau to determine whether the travel ban could now be lifted.
The actual number of persons affected by the new coronavirus is among the factors being considered for the lifting of the ban. The others are the health protocols and the report on local transmission of the COVID-19.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is set to meet on Monday, February 17, to discuss the matter.
Part of the discussion will also include the request of stranded Hong Kong-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Manila to sign a waiver and be allowed to return to their jobs.
Hong Kong and Macau have been included in the travel ban imposed by the government because both are China’s special administrative regions (SARs).
The latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that there are 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Macau, while Hong Kong has 56, with one fatality as of Sunday. (Raymund F. Antonio)