By Analou De Vera
The temporary travel restriction imposed on South Korea is expected to be fully implemented on February 29, Saturday, an official of the Department of Health (DOH) said.
Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that concerned agencies have 48 hours to fully implement the measure imposed by the Interagency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
“The IATF-EID gave 48 hours allowance to implementing agencies so they can properly implement this. So, let us wait for that. Once, they receive the resolution, within 48 hours, they should already be able to implement the temporary restriction,” Vergeire told reporters during a phone interview on Thursday.
Vergeire said that the resolution of the IATF-EID still needs one more signature, which can be accomplished “within the day.”
“Once the IATF Resolution has been signed, we count 48 hours. That’s the time it becomes effective. As of now, we are still waiting for one more signature. Within the day, we can already come out with the Resolution,” the health official said.
The DOH announced on Wednesday the decision of the IATF-EID to impose travel restrictions to South Korea amid the spike of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases there.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that any travel to the whole of South Korea will be temporarily suspended.
“Only permanent residents of South Korea, Filipinos leaving for study, and OFWs returning for work will be allowed provided that they sign a written declaration acknowledging the risks involved which will be complemented with a health advisory pamphlet,” he said.
Meanwhile, travelers from South Korea’s North Gyeongsang province will not be allowed to enter the Philippines temporarily.
“Filipinos and their foreign spouses or children, and holders of permanent resident and diplomatic visas will be allowed entry subject to existing screening and quarantine protocols,” he said.
No repatriation plans yet
Vergeire said that there are still no plans to repatriate Filipinos in North Gyeongsang province.
“Filipinos there are safe and are well-advised. There is no discussion yet on whether to repatriate them or not,” said the health official.
Meanwhile, Vergeire said that the DOH-Central Visayas is already searching for the 26 South Koreans who reportedly arrived at the Mactan Cebu International Airport in Cebu last Tuesday night. The Korean nationals reportedly came from Daegu, South Korea where there is an increase of cases of COVID-19.
“We already coordinated with the regional office. They already submitted an initial report saying they have already gone to the place where the South Koreans are staying to properly advise them,” said Vergeire.